QUEENS (WABC) -- Mayor Eric Adams outlined a "Working People's Agenda" for New York City in his second State of the City address on Thursday.
Adams spoke at the Queens Theatre at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park on how he plans to make NYC more affordable, safer, cleaner and more livable.
His agenda for 2023 rests on four pillars: jobs, safety, housing and care.
The speech laid out his plans to keep recidivists off the streets, connect 30,000 new Yorkers to apprenticeships, launch the country's largest curbside composting program, kick off community planning processes in Midtown and Staten Island's north shore, electrify all for-hire vehicles and provide free health care to all New Yorkers in the city's homeless shelters.
"Without a strong working class, this city cannot survive. That's why, today, I've outlined how we plan to build a city for working people, one that is more affordable, safer, cleaner, and more livable," said Mayor Adams. "You need good jobs and pathways to get those jobs, and those jobs need to be able to support a home for you and a family. You need to be safer, and you need care - not just in crisis but throughout your lives. These are the things that our administration is working for every day to sustain the workers who make this city possible and build a better city for all."
Some of the highlights of the mayor's agenda are listed below:
The unemployment rate for Black New Yorkers is more than three times the rate for white New Yorkers. Adams' agenda will ensure that all New Yorkers have access to family sustaining jobs with good pay and benefits.
To do so, Adams will launch a new Apprenticeship Accelerator to connect 30,000 New Yorkers to apprenticeships by 2030. The Accelerator will track all forms of apprenticeship from youth to adults in the workforce - and providing technical assistance to support the expansion of apprenticeship programs by employers, training providers, educational institutions, and labor unions.
Adams said his administration will continue to focus on violent crime while rolling out new and expanded efforts to combat issues from property crime and traffic violence to quality-of-life issues.
The Adams administration will work to get 'New York's Most Wanted' - roughly 1,700 known offenders responsible for a disproportionate amount of the city's violent crime - off the streets
Adams will also continue to focus on quality of life and provide clean, high-quality public spaces that are essential to the city's comeback.
The mayor will also launch the country's largest curbside composting program, with access for every New Yorker by the end of 2024.
He said he will address the longstanding, pervasive issue of unsightly sidewalk construction sheds by replacing them with newly designed structures that keep streets vibrant and strengthen enforcement against those who leave sheds up for years.
In the coming weeks, Adams said community engagement will begin with the goals of creating more housing, including rent-restricted housing, in Midtown Manhattan where current zoning only allows for manufacturing and office space, as well as on the North Shore of Staten Island where the administration will pursue expanded waterfront access and flood resiliency, job creation, and mixed-use development.
Adams said his administration will undertake an historic effort to provide health care for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness.
The administration will work with its federal partners to allow New Yorkers who have spent more than seven days in the New York City Department of Homeless Services' shelter system to become eligible for free, comprehensive health care services through a specialized network of dedicated providers and care management.
This would make New York the first city in the country to provide this level of care and support to its residents.
Adams said the city's migrant crisis requires state and federal assistance. There are currently 30,000 asylum seekers-and growing.
"We've done a fantastic job to show what cities can do for asylum seekers, it's up to the state and federal government to now support us," said Cmsr Manuel Castro with the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs.
The Adams administration is also developing a three-part mental health plan focused on child and family mental health and an upstream approach to the opioid crisis, including investing more than $150 million in opioid settlement funds into proven harm reduction and treatment programs.
"We're just getting started, and there's no stopping the world's greatest city - filled with the best stuff on earth: New Yorkers," Adams said.
Some lawmakers said the mayor is going too far.
"I believe strongly that the safest cities, the safest communities, have the most resources and not the most police officers," said Latrice Walker, DS-NYS Assembly.
However, several council members praised the mayor's speech.
"It's putting a lot of work on our plates right now, but that's what he should be doing," said Councilmember Keith Powers.
"The devil's in the details and if he follows up with the details, we'll be fine. But that's hard," said Councilmember Gale Brewer.
Gov. Kathy Hochul released the following statement after the mayor's address:
"I commend my friend and partner Mayor Eric Adams for outlining an inspiring and ambitious vision for New York City in his second State of the City address. Our city faces numerous challenges that require bold action and an all-hands-on-deck approach. From addressing a generational housing crisis, connecting those experiencing homelessness and severe mental illness to supportive services, to investing in law enforcement and proven crime prevention strategies that keep New Yorkers safe, and making New York City more affordable - I am confident that Mayor Adams' proposals will meet the urgency of this historic moment. Since day one, I vowed to usher in a new era of collaboration and leadership with the Mayor, and I look forward to our continued partnership to create a brighter, safer and more prosperous future for New York City."
The Legal Aid Society released the following statement:
"In 2019, Albany finally overhauled New York's outmoded and punitive discovery statute which eroded due process, coerced the accused into forced pleas and contributed to wrongful convictions. This reform was badly needed, but the legislation was not supported by funding to address the associated technological and staffing demands. While the City provided public defenders a small allocation to assist with implementation, it wasn't nearly enough, and Albany failed to appropriate resources as well.
"Today's announcement from Mayor Eric Adams of a proposed funding allocation to assist our organization with discovery obligations is welcome news, and we laud the Mayor for this action, but we categorically reject any changes to the current discovery law - rollbacks City Hall and other lawmakers will likely push for this legislative session.
"But our funding needs stretch well beyond this single issue. From the first days Eric Adams assumed the mayoralty, we have communicated with him and his staff regularly about the dire situation our organization, along with fellow defender and civil legal services providers, face as a result of years of flat funding and ever-increasing required expenses.
"Our work providing essential legal assistance in a myriad of courts is either constitutionally or legally mandated. Put another way, we have an obligation to administer our services, an obligation enshrined by the United States Constitution or the City's legal mandates, and the City has a responsibility to ensure unfettered access to our services for low-income New Yorkers.
"We are at a breaking point, hemorrhaging staff at an unprecedented level, increasingly incapable of attracting prospective employees because the salaries we offer cannot meet New York City's skyrocketing cost of living or allow recent graduates to repay their student loan debt. Our rent, healthcare, collectively bargained salary increases and other escalating operational needs - costs that District Attorney offices cover through other funding sources - compound this crisis.
"Mayor Adams frequently references the need for a fully functioning legal system, and we are very much a part of that system, representing some of New York City's most vulnerable residents. For the wheels of justice to turn, all of our needs must be met, and we hope this is just the beginning of a conversation that will ultimately end with significant baselined increases, preserving our legal services for the literally hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who seek our assistance annually."