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Unions, activists praise de Blasio on housing, wage goals

Stephon Johnson | 2/5/2015, 1:18 p.m.

Amsterdam News Staff

Everyone had something to say about New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State of the City address Tuesday morning. Some activists and pundits lamented the fact that de Blasio never addressed issues involving the police, but others appreciated his focus on his goal of increasing the city’s minimum wage and creating more affordable housing while maintaining already affordable units.

Leading the charge was 32BJ President Hector Figueroa, who verbally applauded de Blasio’s desire to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, with the goal of the wage rising with the cost of living.

“We hope that the state Legislature will show the same kind leadership around this issue,” said Figueroa in a statement.

“Mayor de Blasio’s emphasis on affordable housing builds on the commitment he made to help end inequality in our city,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido in a statement. “Working families, our members among them, keenly feel the shortage of affordable places to live. Linking the construction of affordable units, along with parks and amenities, to any new development, as well as preserving existing affordable housing and strengthening rent regulations, is essential to maintaining New York City as a diverse and vibrant world-class city.”

Figueroa saved most of his praise for de Blasio’s housing initiatives.

“We also welcome the mayor’s ambitious affordable housing plan that will provide hundreds of thousands of new apartments for working people across the city and protect the homes of those who face unscrupulous landlords,” Figueroa said. “We commend the mayor for his continued focus on the creation of good jobs, access to affordable housing and quality education and the need to include all New Yorkers, immigrant or native born in the city’s future. We look forward to continuing the fight to make New York City a place all working families can comfortably call home.”

Adriene Holder, the attorney-in-charge of civil practice at the Legal Aid Society, also had high hopes for de Blasio’s ambitious housing plans, keeping her clients in mind when she spoke via statement.

“Low- and middle-income tenants are increasingly facing harassment, lack of services and illegitimate housing court actions,” said Holder. “In far too many cases, without adequate representation, families are made homeless or forced to leave their homes because of lack of heat and hot water. With an attorney, we can ensure that vulnerable families can live in safe, habitable and affordable homes.”

The “Fight for $15” movement was quick to deliver love to de Blasio’s State of the City and had Brooklyn-based KFC worker Naquasia LeGrand speak on what a $15 an hour minimum wage could do for her life and her family.

“Mayor de Blasio understands that there’s a huge difference between living on $18,000 per year and $30,000—it’s called dignity. It means the lights stay on, the landlord gets paid, and there’s milk in the fridge,” said LeGrand in a statement.