KENYA HANDY-HILLIARD ON THE ISSUES
The Covid-19 pandemic exposed and intensified long-existing issues that people in our community knew about from their everyday experiences — an increasingly underfunded hospital system, struggling small businesses, lack of affordable housing that people can truly afford, and an inequitable education system. My passion and compassion for serving people, combined with my knowledge of the inner workings of federal and local government uniquely qualifies me to tackle the complex issues facing us. Born and raised here by public servants, I know for sure, our community has waited far too long for implementation of real and effective steps that will bring us the peace and prosperity that we all seek.
I ask you to stand with me as we work together toward a vision of shared prosperity. As I campaign, I will be sharing with you my thoughts and ideas on the critical issues that I know can be addressed as your City Councilmember— Economic Recovery, Housing and Development, Public Safety, Small Business, Education, Health Care, and more. Please do not hesitate to share your thoughts and ideas with me, so that we can start out and continue in partnership. Visit this page frequently as I address each issue one-by-one based on my views and knowledge, and what I have heard from you as I move around the district. I am looking forward to making the journey to City Hall together.
My outlook is comprehensive, cohesive, realistic and at the same time — visionary. I know how to fight to get things done!
ECONOMIC RECOVERY AND RESILIENCY
Our district continues to face significant economic challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted both the evident and underlying disparities. The City is, right now, experiencing a $9B budget deficit that will continue to grow. We can expect deep cuts to food pantries, housing assistance programs, senior services, legal services, transportation discounts, services to the disabled, and community-based nonprofit organizations. Already understaffed government offices will have staff cuts, and job loss is already rampant.
Meanwhile with consumers having less to spend and rents already too high, the effects of COVID19 are crushing our local businesses. The negative impact on Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (MWBE), the backbone of our community’s economy, can be seen in the empty storefronts and the discouraged faces of business owners. is even more pronounced. Without urgent assistance, we will lose these businesses that provide essential goods, and services, and essential jobs, and contribute to our causes, and the economic foundation of our community will be lost forever with financial assistance.
HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS
Housing is a right! The people of our district must have a concrete say in how it is developed. The current system diminishes the voices of residents. It is paramount that the communities within the district decide what type of development takes place, how renters are protected, and how the existing landscape of the community is preserved.
In NYC housing is becoming a luxury item. The 40th district is home to thousands of tenants and homeowners who find it increasingly difficult to live here. COVID19 has created an emergency situation more concerning than ever before. Elected and government officials must implement policies that stabilize communities so that homeowners and renters can afford to live here. The threat of increased foreclosures, deed theft, and mortgage fraud, looms large and heavy. Overdevelopment is rampant and rent costs are unaffordable for residential and commercial tenants. Job loss and the economic hit to small businesses, due to COVID, has exacerbated an already untenable situation.
PUBLIC SAFETY PLAN
We must investigate, identify, and address the underlying causes of violence in our community and create solutions to put an end to the root causes of high crime rates, while ensuring appropriate, non-raced based police action.
The COVID-19 crisis and the Black Lives Matter protests this year amplified the effects of structural racism in our City and State’s policing and legal systems. Our community has been the targets of policies like “Stop and Frisk,” “Broken Windows” policing, and recently, the disproportionate enforcement of social distancing. On the other hand, we want to feel safe in our communities and decrease the level of crime and violence in our neighborhoods. Communities should not have to sacrifice their civil rights and trust in a professional police force for the hope of public safety.
EDUCATION & OUR SCHOOLS
Access to quality education is a right! COVID-19 and remote learning has provided an opportunity for us to reinvent our education system. With access to more robust enrichment programming and child-centered learning approaches for our City’s school children, we can close the achievement gap, together, as a district.
As a mother of school-aged children, I understand the challenges that come with educating our district’s children. Public schools in district 17 and 18 have historically been underserved and underfunded. For far too long, our schools had to do the best they can with what they have, but our children and schools deserve better. I believe that the community and schools can work together to create systems to properly address the achievement gaps youth in the district face. The next council member should be a reliable resource to young people, parents and teachers within the district, from birth to college or trade school.