And if Mayor Bill de Blasio is the progressive leader he claims to be, he would be wise to follow the council’s lead and include funding for Fair Fares and a plan to build 15,000 units of senior housing.
Both proposals tackle the issue at the heart of de Blasio’s administration: income inequality.
Fair Fares, a $212 million initiative, would fund half-price MetroCards for individuals and families living below the poverty line and veterans enrolled in New York City colleges.
Being able to get on the train or bus to get to work, school or job training makes all the difference for low-income New Yorkers in need of a boost.
Mayor de Blasio has insisted he supports the proposal, but wants to fund it through a millionaire’s tax that has to go through Albany. He wants to wait for a Democratically controlled State Senate to pass the tax.
But that plan has failed in the past. De Blasio shouldn’t take a chance on Albany; he should get Fair Fares done now.
Another proposal the mayor should include in the executive budget is a $500 million plan to build 15,000 affordable apartments for seniors on unused NYCHA lots.
Backed by advocacy groups Metro IAF and East Brooklyn Congregation, the proposal aims for NYCHA seniors to move out of their large apartments and into new units tailored for seniors.
That would allow tens of thousands of large families in need of affordable housing to live in the now-vacant NYCHA apartments.
Though it comes with a high price tag, the result is worth the investment. The plan would allow seniors to live in dignity in their neighborhoods, provide thousands of units for families on the brink and begin to address the ongoing homeless crisis with homes rather than shelters.
Including both of these smart, compassionate proposals would go a long way to make the city more fair and affordable for all.