COVID-19 has decimated our communities and the lives of our neighbors. The economy is limping, with small businesses forced to close, jobs lost and unemployment at 11.4%. Friends and colleagues have been separated, and loved ones were -- and continue to be -- lost.
Out of this devastation, Mark sees the potential to rebuild the right way, to bring a holistic approach to government that will address long-standing inequity and ineffective policies that have been further laid bare by the pandemic. Mark knows that in order to come out of this pandemic quickly and effectively, we will need a comprehensive and holistic approach to recovery in the days, months and years to come. This will start with the creation of a dedicated Manhattan COVID-19 Recovery Unit that supports working families, small businesses, and all Manhattanites by helping them access direct funding, loans, eviction and foreclosure protections, and legal support. He will especially focus on historically underserved communities with a concentration on racial and economic equity, and on the locally-owned businesses and tenants hit hardest by the pandemic.
His COVID-19 Recovery Unit will:
- Be led by a “COVID-19 Recovery Czar” who is dedicated to ensuring that Manhattan bounces back post-pandemic
- Advance health equity, support small businesses, bring people into the workforce, bring back the arts, prepare for the next pandemic, and simplify bureaucracy.
Mark knows that the best way to address housing insecurity is to prevent it from happening in the first place -- that means creating more truly affordable housing, and fighting to keep people in their homes for good.
As a Council Member, Mark made the impossible, possible. Even though many said it could never be done, Mark wrote, fought for, and passed the Housing Right to Counsel, which gave renters a right to a lawyer in Housing Court. And once he did, evictions dropped by 40%. As Borough President, Mark will address the housing crisis head-on, pushing tirelessly so that New Yorkers can afford to live in their communities, including:
- Investing in supportive housing with wrap-around care
- Stopping landlords from warehousing apartments and storefronts by fighting for a vacancy tax
- Funding Community Boards to put them on more equal footing with developers
- Using the land use function of the BP’s office to block overdevelopment and gentrification
- Demanding that 100% of apartments built on public land are truly affordable
- Making Right to Counsel universal for all tenants.
HomelessnessMark believes that our goal should be 0% homelessness -- no more homeless school kids, homeless families, homeless veterans, or homeless workers -- and Mark is committed to achieving that vision. Mark knows that to do this, we need to address the causes of homelessness and provide people with a path away out of homelessness and our shelter system. As Borough President, Mark will:
- Advocate for direct funding like Home Stability Support so those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness can afford an actual apartment, creating better outcomes for these individuals while saving taxpayers millions.
- Push to expand voucher programs that help New Yorkers get out and stay out of the shelter system
- Continue his support for housing-first models like Safe Haven shelters, which reduce barriers for individuals who come in off the street and help get resources directly to individuals experiencing homelessness.
- Work to ensure our shelter system is clean and dignified, with access to essential services and resources like broadband and wifi.
Mark understands that access to quick, sustainable, and equitable transit is a necessity for working families. That’s why he will target traffic congestion, promote bike-friendly city streets, increase Metropolitan Transportation Authority funding, and make public transit accessible to all.
Mark fought to keep buses free during COVID, and as BP, he will:
- Push for a borough-wide master transportation plan, that includes a comprehensive bus lane and bike lane system.
- Work with other leaders in government to advocate for an expansion of ferry service north to 125th Street and across the river, permanent free buses across Manhattan, residential parking permits to reduce congestion, and increased accessibility across all public transportation systems.
- Ensure our streets are no longer built exclusively for cars and will make them for pedestrians and bikers.
Small Businesses and Job Creation
Mark is ready to “de-mall” Manhattan by putting working families first. Every time we lose a local business to a bank, a drug store, or a big box retailer, we not only lose jobs and economic opportunity for our borough, we also lose part of the unique character that makes New York special. From restaurants to nightlife, independent bookstores to shops and galleries, these are the businesses that make New York, New York, and protecting and restoring these locally-owned businesses is the foundation of our economic recovery.
We simultaneously need to ensure that Manhattanites have jobs that pay them a fair wage, provide workplace protections and allow them to both live and raise a family in the Borough. New York’s economy isn’t made great by Wall Street, it’s made great by the workers on Bleecker Street, on 125th Street, on Dyckman Avenue and everywhere in between. We need to make sure those workers are supported, that the labor movement is strong, and that the wage floor is high.
As Borough President, Mark will:
- Support restaurants still struggling due to necessary COVID restrictions by fighting for direct financial support to rehire staff and create tax incentives for businesses that were impacted by COVID-19
- Work to ensure representation of local small businesses on Community Boards.
- Create a Shop Locally Hub to aggressively promote our local businesses. .
- Make sure that locally-owned, minority, women, and LGBTQ+ owned businesses get their fair share of government contracts.
- Strengthen career pipelines from school to well-paid jobs in labor and the tech sector
- Emphasize green economy growth in land-use applications by pushing developers to move towards renewable energy, and expanding union job opportunities in the green economy
- Develop smart and industry-relevant reopening plans for our performance spaces
- Support the labor movement’s efforts to organize workplaces and reach CBAs with employers
Mark knows that our children are our most precious resource, and we owe it to them to ensure that New York City’s public schools are the best in the country.
Mark is a public school parent, a former bilingual math and science teacher, a former UFT member and a staunch advocate for our public schools. But our schools are crowded, underfunded, understaffed and hyper-segregated. Too many students suffered during this truly difficult school year, and we need to address that trauma and learning-loss head-on.
As Borough President, Mark will:
- Work to get our teachers the support and resources they need so we can get our students back into our schools safely
- Desegregate our schools and guarantee that every student has equal access to resources, programming, and a high-quality education
- Champion efforts to ensure that every public school have on-campus healthcare professionals, social-workers, psychologists and guidance counselors
- Work to create more schools through the ULURP process to help alleviate school overcrowding
- Push to create new funding mechanisms to help better fund CUNY
- Work to develop non-tuition financial support beyond 12th grade for CUNY students
Police Reform & Criminal Justice
While we are finally discussing the horrifying reality of the racism that has long corrupted our criminal justice system, Mark knows the next Borough President must do more than talk. He’s ready to take action as Borough President to combat the structural inequalities our criminal justice system is built on and fight for real and lasting reform to the NYPD. All Manhattan residents deserve to feel safe in their communities while also feeling that our society and government is just.
Mark will use the office of the Borough President to:
- Fight for greater reforms and accountability from our police
- Advocate for legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana and help residents expunge past convictions for things that are no longer illegal.
- Hold regular meetings with every precinct commander in Manhattan to monitor their progress on improving police-community relations.
- Fight to restore more community-based policing.
- Advocate for a residency requirement for all NYC police officers.
- Call to end all forms of solitary confinement in our detention facilities
- Continue the long-needed fight to finally close Rikers Island
- Reallocate NYPD funding toward mental health services, social workers and violence interrupters, and removing NYPD responsibility for responding to mental health crises, addiction response cases or traffic violations.
Social EquityNew York has always been a place for people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, and belief structures to come together, and our diversity is the foundation of our strength and resiliency. But even in New York, we have had to fight hard for civil rights for everyone, and that fight is still not complete. Mark’s history of standing up for women’s rights, fighting racism and anti-semitism, supporting the disabled community, and being a steadfast ally of the LGBTQ+ community will continue when he is Borough President, including:
- Ensuring true diversity on community boards and in his office by recruiting from more diverse sources and appointing those who reflect the full spectrum of their communities
- Protecting the right of every woman to receive health care free from harassment or intimidation
- Expanding access for people with disabilities to all public facilities and transit
- Ensuring gender-nonconforming individuals have access to all public accomodations
- Working with the Council and our City’s public healthcare system to address New York’s tragically high rates of infant and maternal mortality among women and children of color.