Several candidates running for mayor of New York signaled a sharp break from the city’s current approach to housing and homelessness during a candidate forum held Thursday evening.
In what organizers labeled a “first-of-its-kind” event, 10 of the 22 formally announced mayoral candidates, broken up into three groups, fielded questions from homeless New Yorkers.
Most of the participating candidates took the opportunity to rebuke current Mayor Bill de Blasio’s large-scale affordable housing development programs, which have mostly failed to reduce homelessness and rent for low-income residents during his two terms. The number of rent-burdened low-income New Yorkers and the number of people sleeping in shelters remained effectively unchanged from 2014, when de Blasio took office, to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
Many instead advocated for more direct city intervention to get people experiencing homelessness into secure housing as quickly as possible.
“Housing first,” said candidate Maya Wiley, former counsel to de Blasio and former chairperson of the city’s police oversight agency. “Everybody is housing ready.”