MYCITY TO EASILY HELP NEW YORKERS CHECK ELIGIBILITY, APPLY FOR, AND TRACK CITY SERVICES AND BENEFITS

First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright: Good morning. This is a great day. I'm First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright, and I have to tell you that childcare and early childhood education, access to high quality, affordable, accessible care has been a priority of this administration from day one. And everyone across the administration, it's an economic development issue, an education issue, it's a health issue. It is an issue that impacts women primarily, and it has been a huge priority.

More than half, 52 percent of New York City families with children under the age of four, could not afford care, since the start of the pandemic. One in four parents have had to turn down a job, change jobs, or take a leave because of a childcare need. We know that no family should be forced to choose between their children or their career, and we know all too often that it is women that have to make the sacrifice and specifically, women of color.

However, we have made real advancements as an administration from day one, across all of our agencies, we have been working on this issue. These are some of the accomplishments and there are more to come. We were able to secure billions of dollars from the state to fund childcare, really an unprecedented investment. We were able to clear the Administration for Children's Services backlog. There were 35,000 families that were on a waiting list, waiting to get care. That backlog has been cleared.

We launched a tax abatement for property owners, to create more childcare centers and increase seats, because we know it's not just what public dollars can do, but the private sector, the employers, they also know that they need to have childcare for their workers and we've given them an incentive to create more seats. Also, in partnership with the council, we launched Promise NYC to support asylum seekers and undocumented individuals and families in need of care, and it has been extremely successful.

Another accomplishment is that we reduced the maximum amount that families must pay. Currently, the average co-payment per child is $3.34 per week. This is down from about $25 a week in May of 2022. These are all very significant accomplishments and it doesn't happen without a cross-agency effort. The mayor has always stressed that we do not work in silos. We have one mission and one vision, and we all have to row together.

And so, I want to call out the Office of Technology and Innovation led by Chief Technology Officer, Matt Fraser, New York City Public Schools, led by Chancellor Banks, and the Office of Childcare led by Deputy Chancellor Kara Ahmed. The Administration for Children's Services' commissioner. The Department of Social Services, Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom and her team. And the team of the first deputy mayor. I would now like to introduce Mayor Eric Adams to share the exciting news of the day.

Mayor Eric Adams: Thank you. Thanks so much. Thanks so much, Deputy Mayor Wright and the entire team. This is an extremely significant day because it's probably one of the most important aspects of my administration is to, how do you make a government work better for working people? It is too cumbersome, it's too challenging, it's too difficult, and in some cases it's downright hostile.

And I met our CTO, Matt Fraser, in an unfortunate situation. It was in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, where he lost a family member to gun violence, who was considered to be a peacemaker in the community. And we spoke briefly. And as you heard me say over and over again for the last 30 years while I was on my road to become mayor, I took notes of people that I met. And I remember writing in my journal and saying that, "This is a person I want on my administration."

And it is probably one of the most significant hires we've ever had and what he's doing about making technology work for people, and it's fascinating. You may not see it, but you're going to feel it. And his name is not going to be on every bridge that's crossed, but trust me, he's building bridges that you would be able to cross to get the goods and services that you deserve as taxpayers. He has done an amazing job in so many areas for this administration, and I handed over to him, my baby, my dream. You're not the only one having a baby.

MyCity was a vision that I've had for so many years and when I sat down with him and I spoke with him and I harassed him just to get it right, and this is the first version of MyCity. This is going to transform how we operate in this city, and this is the first version of it, and I'm just really proud. Imagine a day when you can fill out online from your home, from your phone, you can fill out one time interaction with the city and never again have to put in your social security number, your date of birth, all of that information, as though every time you go to another city agency, your social security number is going to change. Your date of birth is going to change. That's not true. So, why are we tormenting, harassing the public to give basic information and knowledge?

And that is the concept of MyCity. One time. Have a unique identifiable way of knowing who you are, so you don't have to continue to go through the process of reintroducing yourself to a city agency or city government. But in addition to that, how about being able to sign on and when you sign on, you are told that you're eligible for SNAP, you're eligible for WIC, you're eligible for DRIE, for SCRIE. You're eligible for other benefits. Instead of you having to figure out what you're eligible for and billions of dollars go back to the state or go back to the federal government, we are telling you ahead of time that, "Here's what you are eligible for based on your profile."

This is just good stuff that we are creating. 24/7 city deserves a 24/7 operation, and today we're launching MyCity, an online portal where New Yorkers can go online, do an easy search, apply for and track city services and benefits right from their home computers or smartphones, as I indicated. We talked about it on the campaign trail. We are delivering it today in this first phase. Today we're spotlighting the childcare section of MyCity portal.

For the first time, families who need help paying for childcare can apply in one place, with one application. 

Also, Matt's idea to bring our New York City Connect free broadband and Wi-Fi to all of NYCHA, we're going to expand it out more. You're going to start to see how the pieces fit together. Because if we have MyCity but people don't have access to high speed broadband, then it's a waste of time. We are building out each apparatus, one piece at a time, and it's going to all connect together and we're going to be continually saying over and over again, "Matt Fraser. Matt, you going to become a household name, brother.”

In the old system, families had to visit different websites, navigate multiple city agencies, send multiple paper documents, then find out that they had been rejected or told to apply again. And when you are dealing with a crisis, why do you have to have another crisis by dealing with government? Families may not have known which documents they needed to submit or not realize they had submitted an incomplete application. No more. It's time that government works for working people, and that is what we are doing.

And here's what MyCity does now. You are applying in a secure, fast, and an accessible manner in more than 10 languages, so that you are understood by government. It is user-friendly. You can do it all even while you are holding your child on your lap, you can still register for childcare. It's fully online and documents are secured and stored. To save time, families can also complete an easy screening tool to see if they might be eligible before they start the application process. And this is what government is supposed to do and this is how we're going to continue to expand MyCity as we roll out new versions of it.

Applying for childcare subsidies is just the beginning, it's going to continue to expand in the years to come and the months to come. New Yorkers will also be able to find jobs as we deal with our hiring throughout not only city government but throughout the city. There will be a connection to where jobs are available, how to apply for them, and make it easier for people to have access to employment and opportunities, as well as check eligibility, qualifications, complete applications, track service status, and securely store personal information all in one place.

We're using the power of technology to reduce the paper workload, bureaucracy, and red tape, and help New Yorkers get the services their tax dollars pay for, and to Get Stuff Done. So, you could visit mycity.nyc.gov to get started and find out how your city can make more of your time and your interaction.

And I just again, want to thank the entire team, the DOE, all of our childcare providers, and just the vision of your whole team, Matt, over in the CTO's office for continuing to bring our city closer and produce a better product. New Yorkers deserve better. We knew that and that is why we're stepping up and making it happen. 

Childcare is more than a place that you take your child at the beginning of the day or pick up at the end of the day. It was the lack of childcare that mom had to leave us home with my older sister, who was clearly violating the law, but there was nowhere else to do. And every day, family members are making that decision where 11 and 12-year-old children are being the primary caregiver or providers while their parents go out to work, particularly the single family household. Then we demonize the family when something goes wrong so why not be proactive by providing the childcare? It was a real win, deputy mayor. What we did in securing those funds to bring down the cost of childcare. This administration is helping people who are going through things that we went through and we are going back and making sure that they are right. Thank you all for what we have done today. Thank you. Thank you, deputy mayor.

First Deputy Mayor Wright: Thank you Mayor Adams. I think it really is important to note that the mayor started his career as a computer programmer. Technology, it can be an equalizer, certainly for low income people, and it has been a priority of his and this administration and certainly our chief technology officer, Matt Fraser, is the visionary that is driving this forward and we are really grateful for him. Matt.

Matthew Fraser, Chief Technology Officer, Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation: Good morning everyone. It's morning. When you work nonstop, you lose track day and night. I'm Matt Fraser, I'm the chief technology officer for New York City. I'd like to first thank the mayor and I'd like to thank the first deputy mayor for all the support that they've given the team in order to get this done. When you look at what we've done here, you know what they say? A goal absent a plan is a dream. We don't live on dreams here, we live in reality. The reality is every day that we don't do something, it means something to the people that live in the city.

One of the things that the mayor says consistently, and I said this during the last conference that we had, it's behind closed doors. What you see materialize in the day takes a lot of hard work at night. One of the things that the mayor challenges us with every day is to ensure that we're maximizing our time to give New York what it needs and that the city can be its best self when we're dealing with the people who need it the most.

When you look at how childcare was rendered, or at least childcare subsidies were rendered across the city, it wasn't reflective of any modern day process that you would expect. Imagine being a working mother, which we have one which we'll hear from today that has several kids. Then you have to go through a process where you have to fill out a 15-page paper application. You have to take it to one of three agencies and wait 30 days to find out if you're eligible for something. Does that sound fair to someone that lives in the greatest city in the world?

What do we do about that? Just like when they go home, they don't have access to the basic services so they can access regular tools or their kids can compete in school like every other kid that has means. How can that be in the greatest city in the world?

Last week, funny enough, we were here and we were talking about, not here, but we had a conference and we were talking about bringing Big Apple Connect out to public housing where we brought for over 300,000 New Yorkers, free broadband and basic TV to their homes. Homes which 40 percent of them never had it before. Now today we're talking about streamlining government services so it works for those people. The mayor says it all the time. We focus on pulling people out of the stream, we don't focus on how they fall into the stream.

Then when we come out of places like the pandemic and we look at the fact that during the pandemic there was a lot of job loss, there was a lot of learning loss. Kids could not compete because they didn't have access to education but more than that, it's difficult for a parent to go out to work if they don't know who's going to take care of their kid. I know I wouldn't feel safe going out to work every day if I didn't know my kids were safe. What we're giving parents the opportunity to do now is apply online in one place. Get tracking information real time so that they can know whether they're eligible for a program or not and get them childcare as quickly as possible. We are in places where minutes matter and every day we don't do something, we lose an opportunity.

MyCity and childcare is just the first phase of this. We're going to continue to look across our portfolio services that we offer and look at what else we can bring into MyCity portfolio, but we are big believers of not letting the perfect be the enemy of good. We want to make sure that we get access to people as quickly as possible and this administration, as evidenced by our actions, in 15 months we've done things that other administrations have committed but they haven't accomplished in eight year terms.

As the mayor says, promises made, promises delivered and we're just getting started, more to come. Before I take any more time, I think it's good if you hear from some of the people that are consumers of the service, but thank you all for being with us here today. Thank you, mayor.

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the team at the Office of Tech and Innovation, many of which are with us here and in the room. Also, the team at DOE, ACS, and the Department of Social Services, all of which worked collaboratively on making this happen.

I've been in the city at this point, probably about 17 years, and this is probably, under this administration, it's the first time where I can honestly say I've seen every agency cut the policy around, oh, this is my jurisdiction, this is my jurisdiction and we focus on problems like 18. What you're seeing now is evidence of what that can do and how quickly we can turn things around. Thank you all and pleasure to be with you here today.

First Deputy Mayor Wright: Thank you, Matt. I think he was five when he started. 17 years, you must have been five, yes. Next up I want to introduce Christina Cruz, the mother of five and someone who is at a wonderful early childcare program that actually the leader of that program, I was so surprised and happy to see as I walked in, care for my child. When Daniel was two and a half and I had a hard job and I knew that he had a safe place, a place where he was educated, nurtured, fed well, healthy, he was fed healthy food and now he's almost 16 and almost six feet and that strong foundation means everything. I share that with you, Christina, the importance of that, and please come up and share your experience.

Christina Cruz: Good morning everyone. Thank you to Mayor Eric Adams and his team for the opportunity to share my story. My name is Christina Cruz. I am a native New Yorker from Harlem and the proud mother of five incredible children. I currently have a three-year-old in childcare and had two others who went through New York City's childcare system.

I know firsthand how tedious the old system was. The endless paperwork and having to dig up the same documents every time you needed to apply. I remember it feeling like the longest process possible. As a working mom, I don't have the time to keep pulling the same documents and waiting around to find out if paperwork went through. Childcare is everything to me. It is a place where I know my kids can be safe and gives me security as a working mom. This website, MyCity, is a game changer. I was able to get a demo firsthand and this way is simpler and self-explanatory. It's one application, I can finally save all my documents in one place and it is true: this is a one stop shop for those who need access to childcare subsidies. I want to thank Mayor Adams and his entire team for continuing to keep working families in mind and this incredible website. Thank you. Have a good day.

First Deputy Mayor Wright: Right: Last but not least, I want to introduce and acknowledge Councilmember Julie Menin.

City Council Member Julie Menin: Thank you so much first deputy mayor and thank you Mayor Adams. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be here today. When I walked into this room and I saw childcare assistance as the really top issue that is being led by MyCity portal, I can't tell you how much it personally means to me.

Earlier this year in November, the mayor signed five of my bills that create a universal childcare package. Two of those bills required the city to do a portal on subsidies and a portal on all childcare facilities. Now this is a reality thanks to the mayor's leadership and it's a game changer.

We were contacted by dozens and dozens of parents, who as you heard very eloquently, had so many issues around the prior system. They literally could not figure out the maze of subsidies and it was not fair to them. Just last year, 375,000 parents left the workforce in New York City because they could not find accessible and affordable childcare. That cost the city over $2.2 billion in lost economic revenue. That is changing today with the MyCity portal. I couldn't be happier to be here today. I really want to thank the mayor and his team for his leadership. Thank you.

Mayor Adams: Thank you. As we stated, this is only the beginning. If you see the mounds of paperwork you need to get hired, same questions over and over again. All of these forms, the mounds of paperwork, you need to get food stamps, to get SNAP, to get WIC, this is just torturous. We are now going to condense, we are going to expedite, this is going to be a fluent way of the delivery of goods and services. We knew childcare was the most important as you stated, Councilwoman and that's why that's our first rollout.

His team is, I'm sure they're back in the office right now going through the next rollout as we continue to roll out and really show how government is supposed to operate. We going to take the criticisms of why is it taking so long? We got it, but we know what the finished product is going to be. This is an unbelievable team and every time I hear one of our leaders give their personal narrative, they could identify with you because you went to the same… Where is she? You look like a daycare provider. [Laughter.]

Every time I hear the everyday stories, that's who our team is. Our team is made up of everyday people who experience the same thing that you experienced. Mom had six, you have five. She loved them all, but she adored me. I know you got one. Why don't we open to a few questions. Go Kate.

Question: Hi, Mayor Adams.

Mayor Adams: What's up, Kate?

Question: Just got some questions about MyCity. The first is, I know right now, I know I only have one. It seems that childcare is the focus, but eventually will it roll in many other services and then will it get rid of,  I know we have a 311 app, we have a pay or dispute app for the Department of Finance for parking tickets and other apps that are used. Will this all be under the MyCity umbrella at some point? Because it just seems right now it's just childcare services.

Mayor Adams: Right. First of all, we love NYC. Just want to say that. Yes, the goal is to do just that. We want a one-stop shop that, let's say as you stated, let's say you have to pay a parking ticket. Why do you have to go in and put your information in again? Your city should know who you are. That's the goal. The goal is to give a unique, identifiable way of knowing who you are. You should be able to look at all the tickets you paid. You should be able to get all of that information, but it should be centralized and you should be able to track. 

Okay, I'll put it in an application for something. Where is it? Am I with the claim examiner? Am I with the person that's going to do the final approval? Because you know what this allows us to do? We're going to start to identify where the bottlenecks are. Why is it taking so long to do this issue, and then we could go in and resolve that. The famous quote, Sheena says, "We have a scatter and pray system," and you can't do that anymore.

Question: May I ask Mr. Fraser, how long this has been in development, what it's modeled after, and what you would say to someone who needs to be reassured that their records would be safe, their information would be secure here?

Fraser: In terms of how long it has been in development, the short answer to that is from the day that we stepped in. It was a concept in terms of centralizing services into a single place. We took it from a concept, looked across the area of services that we offer to our citizens and we said, "Look, here's one area where it's incredibly important. It's all analog and let's make it digital."

I'd say, of the last 15 months, about the last three months have been focused on user testing. We wanted to be sure that whatever we put out, it worked not just for government, but it also worked for the families. What you've heard today is testimony of the tool and how it works. That's because they saw it as we delivered it and as we developed it.

In terms of data security and safety, some of the people that we have up here with us today is our Chief Privacy Officer, Michael Fitzpatrick, and Kelly Moan, the Chief Information Security Officer for the city. New York City, from a cybersecurity perspective, is the safest city, especially on the government and the safest city in America and across the nation. That's because we have a capable team that works on protecting and safeguarding our data.

Now, in addition to protecting the data, we also have a privacy team that's focused where if there's data slips that happen that we hold ourselves accountable. So all the tools that we have in place to both safeguard and secure the data today are in line with what you'll find in modern applications.

Question: Hi, Mayor.

Mayor Adams: How are you?

Question: I remember you mentioned that bank accounts might eventually be a part of this, that you could link your bank account to the MyCity app? And my second question is why didn't it happen in the first year of your administration?

Mayor Adams: I believe in a concept called cyber wallet. It allows you to get your paycheck through a cyber wallet. You can incentivize, for example, if someone is buying a home of, if they take a financial literacy course, you can match it, the cost of it. If someone is purchasing food, you can incentivize it. You buy healthy food. It allows us to see spending trends, how people are spending money, how to provide better services. It's a cyber wallet. How that's going to be put in place is something that Matt is going to decide for us.

You said, "Why was it done in the first year of the administration," I know it's unimaginable, but what's this, the 15th month? I was dealing with asylum seekers. I was dealing with coming through the pandemic. We've been so successful in navigating us through all this stuff. We had a lot of stuff going on and we wanted to get it right. We had it rolled out, we were ready. I said, "Nope, let's go and have an everyday user do it. They're going to knock it around, kick it around, and it must be a good product." That was the goal.

When Matt first came to me with the first version and said, "It's time to rock and roll," I said, "I got to have my users try it because what's good for me as a computer geek may not be good to mommy. It has to be good to mommy and the geek." That's why we wanted a good product so we can make sure it's done right. 15th month into our administration, we are producing the product that we're going to continue to build on for the future.

Question: Mr. Mayor, you said this will roll out in the coming months and then years.

Mayor Adams: Yes.

Question: What's the timeline exactly? What's the next phase? How is this going to go?

Mayor Adams: Matt, you can talk about it. Every layer is going to have the tires kicked by the users. We're not going to be so expeditious that we are not going to produce a quality product. We have witnessed that so many times before. We're going to make sure, because this is life changing for our city. If we try to race through it just to beat an imaginary deadline of something that's going to be the foundation of how this city's going to function ... We need to be clear on that. This is a foundation of how this city is going to function.

This is a legacy product. When you're doing a legacy project, you cannot be worried about, did I beat the clock? No, we are going to get this right. Each time Matt say, "We ready for another version," we're going to go back to mommy and use this and say, "Knock it around for us. Is this a good product?" Then we're going to come back and roll out the next phase. Matt?

Fraser: I think I want to just be very careful around timing. One of the things that we're focused on is iterative deployment, finding services that we can, incorporating it along the way. We do not want to fall victim to what you hear from governments all the time. We're going to build a system, it's going to be great, and then five years from now you'll see it.

What we're doing now, and in terms of timing, 15 months in, we not only delivered the first wave of MyCity, but we've also delivered broadband in over 300,000 homes. We are working continuously to bring things forward as quickly as possible. We prioritize need based on capability today. What we're trying to find are services that have high impact, that are analog, that take a long time and you have no visibility into. Pull those in, and then in that process look at other things that we can refine and also pull into the platform. We have a lot of digital forms today. Some of those things work, and they may not be the best, but at least there's something. We're not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We'll find the services that we can incorporate and bring them in.

As we get through the year, we're going to have subsequent releases. But as the mayor says, ultimately a lot of the time is going to be spent around making sure that our user base that has to use these tools agree that they're in a state that's ready to go live. But also, one of the things that we didn't mention is that in order to get just childcare live, we had to go both through our state and federal partners because they regulate and they oversee these processes. The fact that we not only built a system, but we got it through state and federal oversight in a matter of 15 months, that's a minor miracle in and of itself. I think you'd appreciate government bureaucracy. I say we are working as fast and as quickly as we can.

Mayor Adams: That's so important what you raised out. We built the system from scratch. We had to get permission from the federal and state to do aspects of this. It wasn't as though we had an idea and it was already in place. We did this in 15 months. We did Big Apple Connect so that when we built the system, people could use it, and we brought down the cost of childcare. Come on, y'all got to find some good in this story. I know it's hard, but y'all got to at least give me one line in the story you cover. I mean, all of you've covered government before, when are we going to say, "There's something about Eric." Built it, government regulatory issues, city, state, and federal, Big Apple Connect, lowered the cost of childcare.

Question: Hi. Could you talk more about what user testing was done? What was the population testing it, and are you confident that MyCity and this childcare application is going to roll out without any kinds of bugs or glitches?

Fraser: I think any system that goes live, you always have to factor for the unknown. If I could predict the future, I think I'd be a millionaire by now. But what I can say, we've taken every effort that we can to ensure the city is safe, that the system is safe, it's reliable, and it meets the needs of our constituency.

When we did testing, the way that we did testing was instead of pulling in a random group of people off the street, what we went to was the centers that people were actually dropping the paperwork off and applying for childcare. We said, "Hey, you're filling out an application now, do you have some time where we can show you something and tell us how well this works considering that you just went through that process? Then, how well does it rate to other systems that you used for other things, like simple things."

That, in terms of the user or the user base that we did testing with, all of the users that we did testing with were consumers of the traditional process. The specific numbers and demographics, we can follow up offline and provide the details on that front. But that's what we tried to do. Again, as the mayor said, it has to work for mommy, and it can't work for our idea of what mommy is or who mommy is. It has to work for the actual mommies, the actual parents.

Question: Mr. Mayor, you mentioned bottlenecks earlier in some benefits applications. One area that there's been a huge bottleneck in the SNAP applications, cash assistance. I'm wondering the issue there seems to be that it's taking way too long to process the benefits, in part because of a lack of staff. Do you envision MyCity being able to address this in some sort of way by automating processing, what have you?

Mayor Adams: What I did, Chris, with Deputy Mayor Wright, is I asked all of our places to give me a flow chart of how we perform our functionings. Then I reached out to Matt and said, "Let's look at this flow chart. Let's go over it." When you look at the duplication, the unnecessary paperwork, the weight it takes for people to come back and get results, I mean, this stuff is just a mess

Matt is looking at this and he's saying, "Okay, here's how we can cut the process down." For example, people apply for some services that we know at the beginning they're not eligible for. So instead of saying right away in the system, "This body of people is not eligible for it." We go through the whole process of analyzing, when we know they're not eligible. And we have some cases where people put in duplicate applications. And what do we do? We process both applications instead of immediately saying, "Is this a duplicate? Discard it." And so, because we were just laying layers upon layers on bureaucracy, no one paused for a moment to say, "Does this make sense?" That's what we say in this administration. When we look at the flow charts of what we do, we ask ourselves, "Does this make sense?" And far too often we've been coming up with what? 

No. And so, the unwillingness to be honest and say, "No, this doesn't make sense." And so, when my team comes and presents something to me, I'm clear. It has to make sense. And if it doesn't make sense, then it doesn't make sense to mommy. And if it's not making sense to mommy, then we're making mommy's life more complicated and she's trying to raise five children. She should not have government be another one of her children.

Question: Very fast and on topic. Is this available on the app version too, or just online portal?

Fraser: We built it as an online portal. So it's both accessible on mobile and desktop, on desktop systems. In terms of building a specific native app, again, the path was about making sure it worked and getting out as quick as possible, which is why we moved towards web-based.

Mayor Adams: Okay, go do some off topic. Thank you. Thank you all. 

Question: Hi. There's a bill in the city council that would provide information about police foundation activities by requiring the NYPD to disclose what it spends charitable contributions on. Do you think the foundation's operations have been two opaque?

Mayor Adams: I'm sorry, I didn't get that. A bill that we require.

Question: Require the NYPD to disclose what it spends charitable contributions on. Do you support that bill? And do you think the foundation's operations have been too opaque?

Mayor Adams: The police department or the police foundation?

Question: Well, so the bill would provide information about police foundation activities. It would require the NYPD to disclose what it spent charitable contributions on.

Mayor Adams: I'm unclear on what the bill is. I would have to look at it, but the police foundation, the rules around foundations and nonprofits, they have to comply with them. And to my understanding there's never been any complaints that they're not. So I'm not sure of the bill. I will have to look at exactly what they are asking for. I know the police foundation is doing some good things in so many ways. And they have to comply with all rules.

Question: Mr. Mayor, Kevin Sheehan, New York Post. So according to our poll, 68 percent of voters in Carl Heastie's Bronx District are in favor of more charter schools. And why would you go against the will of your own voters?

Mayor Adams: I think that's the question for the speaker. I find the speaker to be extremely conscientious. I think he has served his constituents well. He's been serving for several years. He served when I was there. I had a great meeting when I was in Albany with him. And I think he's a great lawmaker.

Question: Thank you. Mr. Mayor, I wanted to ask you about a story in Gothamist, WNYC today about a nightclub in Brooklyn called Avant Gardner. Your team appears to have gone into bat for that company, while they were facing scrutiny from SLA. I'm just wondering what was the motivation for going in and doing this? Why do you think it was appropriate for your administration to go in and defend them, while the SLA were scrutinizing them over people dying from overdoses there, being hospitalized for drug related reasons?

Mayor Adams: Well, we are very clear. We are a business friendly administration here. As the mayor and as the borough president, I've always been that way. Local businesses hire local people. It is part of improving our economy. And I've said it over and over again, the backbone of this city really focuses on small businesses. And so if someone comes to an office because they need assistance, we are going to give them the legal assistance that they need. And that is what the office has always done. That's what we are obligated to help those who come in for assistance. I'm hoping that eventually we'll get to the day that the state SLA is handled on a city level. I don't think people outside the city should be making the requirements and should ensure that the state liquid authority, how it's enforced is actually enforced here. But we are going to always work with small businesses that come with us.

It doesn't matter if it's a bar, if it's a restaurant, if it's a grocery store, no matter what, they have to comply with the NYPD. They have to comply with the rules and authority. And I believe that we are going to make sure that they do that. And listen, if we were going to say that if the overdose happened somewhere of that, we're going to blame a particular business, as long as they're not neglectful... We have a drug problem in this country and we need to address that drug problem. I'll say to them more than once, but we're going to always... If somebody comes to us for help, we're going to give them the professional help and we're going to give them the advice. That's what I've done in the borough president, in the state senate, and what I'm going to do as the mayor.

Question: You don't think they're at fault for the overdoses?

 

Question: Thank you. Mr. Mayor, on Monday you talked about migrant funding as kind of your top priority in Albany this year. Did you get any specific commitments from the state legislative leaders about that? I know you don't like to go into private conversations, but how are things looking?

Mayor Adams: Well, both the governor, the leader of the Assembly, and the leader of the Senate all understood that this is a real issue that we are facing. And they understand that we have to work together. Number one, to get dollars from the federal government. Come up with a real immigration policy on the federal level, as well as the proper funding. And I left their encouraged that they understand that New York City has really carried this burden for so long. And that we're proud of what we've done here, no other city has done it, what we have accomplished. And so we're looking for them to go through their negotiation process and receive the funding that we deserve to receive to deal with this crisis.

Question: Hi, Mayor. I wrote… Speak about the pandemic era food stamp benefits. Someone's receiving $80 less a month in food stamps than they were before. So the MET Council’s asked for more money as part of the budget for emergency funding for food shelters. And this is, as I'm talking to New Yorkers in line and at food pantries, and they're really concerned about being able to provide the basics for their family. Are you open to this request from the MET Council?

Mayor Adams: Listen, I think David Greenfield is doing an unbelievable job. I was with him, I was with his team on Sunday as they were giving out food to those who are in need. Not only did the pandemic impact us on food pantries, but we're seeing a large number of migrant and asylum seekers that are also going to food pantries. We're going to sit down. These are tough choices we have to make. I cannot emphasize enough when we talk about all of these different places, we have to find efficiency. We have a $4.2 billion bill that came out of nowhere. And every service in the city is going to be impacted, every. And we have to make these tough decisions. And our goal is to do what we have been doing, find out how do we minimize the pain, but we are all going to receive some pain.

And I'm going to sit down and speak with David. David is doing a great job over at the MET Council. And we want to find ways that we can get private philanthropy, as well as our public dollars to do the right combination. The volunteerism that we see, everyone knows where I'm at Wednesday night at 9:00 p.m. I'm on 34th Street between Seventh and Eighth, handing out food to New Yorkers who are on their tough times. 

What we did yesterday, where we got SUNY to do haircuts. We are being creative in solving these crises that people are facing. And so we will sit down with the MET Council and others, to see how we could minimize the pain that we're all going to experience. Thank you.

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