Last night was the final televised debate in the race for the Democratic nomination for NYC Mayor. If you missed it there is ample coverage all over the internet; we don’t need to link it here. However, the question remains whether or not the current mayoral candidates accurately address needs of struggling New Yorkers. Michael Powell at the NY Times published a similar article on politics and inequality in the Bronx on Sunday.
The Urban Justice Center’s Safety Net Project has developed a tumblr called “representMEnyc” in which low-income New Yorkers are able to express what they want from the next NYC mayor. Helen Strom, legal advocate at UJC, shares the motivation behind the project:
During the Bloomberg years, while some sectors of the city have prospered, low-income New Yorkers have faced both official neglect and outright malice from the mayor’s office. We want the site to allow people to connect personally to the stories and desires of their fellow New Yorkers and to amplify the voices of low-income communities, which have been ignored and suppressed in the city for too long.
Through the tumblr, we are able to learn individual stories and desires of New Yorkers, and what’s important to them. One child and his mother hold up a sign listing their priorities for the city. They tell UJC staff:
“The mayor needs to worry about more than soda when people don’t have anywhere to live. I am thinking of moving out of state because of the living conditions here. I have been in that building 19 years and it’s time to go. The way they treat you here is like garbage if you are on Section 8 or something like that. If a new mayor comes, we need better housing laws because the housing is never up to code. My landlord is getting money but they never do anything. We are being abused by landlords with the living conditions here, how much more abuse can we take?”
Another woman writes:
“I need the next mayor to: budgeting the city’s money in a logical and fair way. Not just build housing, but REAL affordable housing w/out gentrifying neighborhoods. 80/20 is not fair and not good enough. Learn the AMI of neighborhoods you are rebuilding. Be more active in community events. Get to know those who vote for you. Understand minimum wage in no way can afford anyone a home/apt or proper housing single/married or especially family. The hiking of MTA and the lack of better service. Where is all of our fare going? When service seems to just get worse.”
She goes on to say:
“This issue has become more of an importance because I am head of household, because I am a mother. And not involved in a two income household where this city seems to tend to more. I need to build a security for my child so she does not have to experience the trials this city has inflicted on it natural born citizens especially. I was born/raised/educated in the city of New York and yet can’t afford a basic, comfortable living. I do not meet concierge/drivers/ and restaurants I can’t afford. I need housing/a decent paying job w/ skills I’ve strived to attain to be a part of the city I grew up in and be a working part of society and to not feel banished from it, by being PRICED out.”
Getting these stories out is crucial. We need to make more effort as a society to make sure that this perspective is heard, and is being told by those experiencing it.