Scott Stringer Shreds Bill de Blasio’s State of the City Plans

Scott Stringer blasted Bill de Blasio's failure to tackle homelessness in his State of the City address—or to provide details on his housing and jobs proposals.

Comptroller Scott Stringer presents his analysis of the city's preliminary fiscal year 2018 budget and January Financial Plan.
Comptroller Scott Stringer presents his analysis of the city’s preliminary fiscal year 2018 budget and January Financial Plan. Madina Toure/Observer

Comptroller Scott Stringer, a rumored mayoral candidate, tore into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new plans to create jobs and affordable housing, and his decision to withhold specifics on his vision to address the city’s homelessness crisis in his annual State of the City speech on Monday night.

During his State of the City speech at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, de Blasio did not offer new solutions to decreasing the record number of families currently living in homeless shelters, promising instead to present his vision “in the days to come.” He also said that he would create 100,000 high-skill, high-wage positions in a variety of sectors throughout the city that pay anywhere from $50,000 to $75,000 a year or more.

At a press conference where he unveiled his analysis of the city’s preliminary fiscal year 2018 budget and January Financial Plan, Stringer noted his audits had turned up “dangerous conditions families and children are living in” throughout the shelter system.

“I think that we do need to hear from the mayor about a big and bold plan to address homelessness,” Stringer said. “He says he’s gonna announced that shortly. I would only say, you know, let’s see it as soon as possible. I’ve identified the crisis. We have offered our own solutions.”

Th comptroller recalled the “outrageous cost” of commercial hotels and the human cost of placing families with children in the hotels “with no services and no home.” And he insisted it’s time for the mayor “to just get specific.”

Stringer was much more blunt in his critique of the mayor’s plans to create 100,000 good-paying jobs, arguing that it is an “empty promise” and saying that the city needs to have more job programs and engage the technology sector more.

“I honestly think don’t think it was clear as to what he was talking about because no plan, no timetable for a plan and that here in fact, the city literally is already creating 90,000 jobs a year,” Stringer continued.

De Blasio gave only a cursory outline of his plans to convert a city property in Brooklyn’s Sunset Park into a “Made In New York campus” for garment manufacturing at an event there yesterday. He also drastically reduced estimates of how many positions would result from his initiative to retrofit buildings across the city to increase their energy efficiency—a fact sheet released before the State of the City address put the figure at 30,000, but on Tuesday the mayor insisted on Tuesday the real number was 3,000.

The mayor promised in his speech Monday night that the other positions would materialize in the life sciences and entertainment sectors, without explaining how or where.

De Blasio also announced during his address that he would allocate an extra 10,000 of the 200,000 affordable housing units he vowed to create by 2024 for households earning $40,000 or less.

Stringer said it was “encouraging” that the mayor acknowledged that the housing plan “clearly is not working for the poorest New Yorkers” and said that he was pleased with de Blasio’s announcement that the city will provide universal access to legal advice to every tenant facing eviction in New York City Housing Court. But he would like to see the housing plan go further.

“Right now, his plan with the developers is not really the type of real affordable housing that people in neighborhoods need so they don’t get pushed out of their homes and into homelessness,” Stringer added.

In his analysis, Stringer said that the rate of economic growth is projected to slow for New York City over the next four years.

He acknowledged that the city has created 635,000 jobs since 2009—coming out to a historic high of nearly 4.4 million jobs—and that unemployment rates are down in all five boroughs. He also said that this year and next, proposed infrastructure spending and potential tax cuts will enable growth to hold at more than 2 percent.

But he anticipated a more drastic slowdown will take place in the years to come if President Donald Trump goes through with his threats to curtail trade and immigration. The comptroller warned that the city’s “budget cushion” will sit at just $8.5 billion at the start of the new fiscal year this summer, and recommended it set aside an additional $1.7 billion.

Many de Blasio foes have urged Stringer to forego a second term as comptroller, and to challenge the mayor in the September Democratic primary. But Stringer has yet to make any such move, and de Blasio has continued to amass crucial endorsements.

Eric Phillips, the mayor’s spokesman, was equally terse in his remarks, suggesting that the comptroller doesn’t have a clear sense of how best to help the city.

“The comptroller has criticized universal prekindergarten, equipping officers with body cameras, unprecedented highs in affordable housing and job creation, a balanced budget with record savings, and sweeping investments in homelessness prevention,” mayoral spokesman Eric Phillips said in an emailed statement. “City Hall shares the public’s wonderment at what exactly the Comptroller’s fighting for.”

This story has been updated to include a comment from the mayor’s office. 

Scott Stringer Shreds Bill de Blasio’s State of the City Plans