Bill de Blasio and his wife Chirlane McCray after voting. (Mark Lennihan/The Associated Press)
Congratulations Mayor de Blasio. You have won a new four-year term. You will continue oversee a $70 billion budget, the largest of any city in the U.S. You’ll have 325,000 employees to run services and agencies. You will serve more than eight million citizens, with more than eight million needs and demands.
To help you get started, we asked people in Brooklyn about some of those needs and demands. The top of the wish list? Affordable housing. But as you might suspect, that’s not all. Here’s what Brooklyn told us:
Cobble Hill: Homelessness and housing
Nereida Ramos, 57, is homeless and looking for job. Her request for the mayor is simple:
“Please, de Blasio, focus on the homeless situation. It’s bad. Affordable housing—if a building has 200 apartments but you have 60,000 applying for it, the numbers are not OK.”
Bed-Stuy: A place to sit
Earl Green, 76 and retired, was interviewed on Fulton Street in Bed-Stuy, where he has lived for some fifty years. He describes himself as an independent voter who believes both sides have some good ideas, and he likes Bill de Blasio. But:
“Actually, I wish the mayor focused more on recreational areas. I’m old. Sometimes I don’t want to go home, and I have some time to kill, but there’s nowhere to sit. Look around! There’s not one bench.”
Park Slope: Affordable housing
Bill Mable, 48, a data scientist, is concerned about the lack of affordable housing in the city.
“I see all of the developments going up and the cheapest condos start at $2 million. Space is scarce; developers should have limited ability to build expensive developments when there’s a shortage of affordable housing.”
Sunset Park: Yes, housing
Xingjian Lin, a 64-year-old immigrant, agrees with Mable. He has a tracheotomy tube so he can’t speak, but he answered questions by writing on paper in Chinese:
“The government needs to build more affordable housing buildings.”
Bushwick: Fix the parks
Jessica Nathan, 30, is a bartender at a restaurant in Prospect Height. She has lived in Bushwick for ten years and, among other things, wants the city to fix up the public parks.
“There’s a lot of parks you can’t get into, and they have a lot of trash. They’re very overgrown and they have seats you don’t want to sit in.”
— Raishad Hardnett
Bed-Stuy: Public transportation
Jules Salomone, 30, is a graduate student who was interviewed at the corner of Nostrand and Fulton. The subways are near the top of his priorities list.
“More public funding should be put into transit. What the hell? This is a big insult to New York City.”
Sunset Park: Gentrification
Jimmy Carbonell, 22, is a bartender who voted for Bernie Sanders, but who says he won’t be voting again because he doesn’t believe it will make a difference.
“My goddamn neighborhood is being gentrified and I’ve had a lot of friends of mine move out. It’s getting kind of lonely.”
Bushwick: School safety
Anna Constantino, 64, is the landlord at 17 Park St. Her grandchildren are in college, but she’s concerned about safety in local public schools. One of her tenants, Carmen Torres, 64, who has five grandchildren, was nearby, and she agrees.
“We need security guards in schools. When you send your kids to school, we don’t know what can happen. The kids, they’re the future for us.”
Crown Heights: Housing and the homeless
Ameesha Jones, 32, is school safety agent and a single mother of a six-year-old daughter. Like many others, Jones has an issue with the lack of available low-income housing in her neighborhood.
“With all due respect, the affordable housing isn’t affordable housing. If you put up more affordable housing it would decrease the homelessness.”
Sunset Park: Plastics Pollution
Kimberly Graf, a 36-year-old-freelance artist, was walking her dog. Among other things, she thinks New York should follow California’s move last year to outlaw single-use plastic bags, for the sake of the environment.
“There are alternatives to plastic bags, and I think we could be a leader on the East Coast, and we should be.”
Bed-Stuy: Slow the rent hikes
Alex Welsh, 31, is a photojournalist who considers himself to be a second- generation “gentrifier” in Bed-Stuy, where he has lived for four years. But he says the city is getting too expensive.
“Anything that he can do to stop the displacement of people is good. Even this neighborhood has gotten so expensive. I am lucky my rent hasn’t gone up but I hear from friends who are paying for over $2,000 for studios here.”
Bushwick: More cops
Carmen Morales, 57, is unemployed but collects disability. After a recent nerve-wracking incident, in which she was approached in a threatening way on a darkened street, her biggest concern is safety.
“Sometimes it feels unsafe, depending on the area. I think we need more patrols.”
Crown Heights: Segregated Schools
Cindy Bradshaw, 37, is a stay-at-home mom and local Community Board 8 member. She worries about the quality of the public education and, in particular, school segregation, which she sees as linked to that.
“Whenever the public schools are mostly black, they lack resources.”
Park Slope: Shelter
Tanya Lofgren, 54, is retired, but recalls the time she use to venture out with her dad, the director of a crisis center in Boston at the time, and count the number of homeless people on the street. The numbers rose every winter.
“We’re coming up to winter and I can’t help but think about people without shelter.”
Crown Heights: Fewer bus and bike lanes
Charlie Hotell, 55, is an Uber Driver who knows Crown Heights well. He thinks Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan to reduce traffic accidents and deaths is a good idea overall, but would like to see speed limits applied only to school hours. He’d like to see traffic congestion reduced, too. And:
“What really concerns me is the tons of cameras and bike lanes. You get a ticket every week.”