EmPOWER your future with your vote.

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POWER IN OUR VOTE

When we unite around issues that matter most, demonstrating our collective power is how we win! For the past 17 years, I have served the Southeast Queens and Rockaways communities. The 31st Council District reflects the diversity that makes our borough great! We recognize the different communities and needs across the district, and acknowledge the importance of being sensitive to the needs of our collective community.

Our communities are home to hard working New Yorkers who want what anyone would -- a clean, safe neighborhood to raise our families.

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Yet, our educators are not supported and our schools are inadequately funded; we have less access to quality healthcare and food; and crime is on the rise. Eight years ago, Superstorm Sandy devastated the 31st District. We still haven’t fully recovered. We are in the midst of COVID-19, now is not the time to withdraw, but a time to get behind issues that will help our neighborhoods thrive. 

 

We can turn things around in 2021 -- together -- because there is

Power in Our Vote.

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SELVENA BROOKS-POWERS

VISION FOR DISTRICT 31

 

Access to Healthcare: The 31st District saw more than 1,000 lives lost as a result of the coronavirus. Like many across the state, St. John’s Hospital, the sole hospital in the district, was overwhelmed and those in need of immediate care for non-COVID related illness were unable to access medical attention. Prior to Covid-19, mainland residents must travel more than five miles to seek emergency care. There are no 24-hour urgent cares on the Mainland and Rockaways and healthcare access must be improved.  We need to preserve and expand our hospital space, and push Albany to create true universal and equitable health care for all.

 
 
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Quality Schools: Our school system, and inadequate support for our educators, is failing our children. The coronavirus pandemic has further exposed the disparities in schools across the city -- especially in the 27th and 29th school districts. With more than 70,000 students citywide without access to the tools necessary for remote learning, our students are now being left behind. We must work collaboratively with our local educators and prioritize improving the educational experience of our children. This starts with ensuring the proper PPE investment for all of the schools across the district, emphasising Career Technical Education (CTE) for students who show interest or promise, restoring Gifted and Talented programs for schools that serve primary students of color, as well as real investments into the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math programs.

Affordable Housing: Real access to intergenerational wealth and financial stability often comes through homeownership, but predatory lending and foreclosures have denied that dream for many. Renters have been harassed, lied to, cheated and gentrified out of their homes. To fix this, we need to stop basing “affordability” on the deceptive area median income (AMI), which merges data from our area with higher income communities. Any new affordable housing must be based on the income levels within the zip code to ensure housing is truly accessible to residents. Additionally, we must create a path to homeownership for young people, ages 25-35, by funding first-time homeownership grants.  Supporting the formation and expansion of Community land trust will also accelerate access to homeownership for hard working residents in our district.

 

Tax Equity: The wealthy have gotten tax break after tax break while middle class families are increasingly carrying more of the burden.  We need to change this by increasing taxes on the ultra-wealthy, implementing a pied-a-terre tax for wealthy non-residents who use our services, and by stopping the unfair higher taxation for co-ops and condo’s as compared to single families homes. Property taxes for single family homes should follow a formula that takes into account the true value of the homes.

 

Public Safety: Every person wants to live in a community that is safe to walk the streets without fear of becoming a victim to criminals or abusive police officers. It’s time to reimagine how our communities are policed. Faced with a $7 billion deficit, the City must make tough decisions. Our community has been historically under-resourced, and with the rise in gun violence, domestic violence, and assaults, we must take a holistic approach to address the surge in crime taking place. That includes holding the NYPD accountable, bridging the divide between law enforcement and community; demilitarizing our police; funding mental health and addiction treatment; including mental health professionals as first responders; and removing police from our schools. With our new transparency laws, we must remove bad officers and higher ups, and change the culture of the NYPD to begin to improve trust between community and police. Furthermore, we must remove the secrecy around surveillance. We must hold those that have taken an oath to protect and serve accountable through developing a taskforce of community members and the NYPD to screen candidates in the application process. We must also recruit a more diverse police force through innovative initiatives, such as an HBCU recruitment program.

NYCHA: The state of NYCHA facilities are deplorable. We must address the systemic divestment of NYCHA properties because the reality is, if our neighbors are not well then neither are we. We must provide massive capital investments to modernize and repair NYCHA communities, make NYCHA housing safer by addressing mold and lead contamination, ensure that every NYCHA development has reliable, working heat, hot water and elevators so that the residents can live with dignity. This will require New York City to not simply rely on attempts to privatize public space and housing for generations of families but also to begin to partner actively with Albany and Washington DC as a multi partner approach is necessary for systemic improvements in public housing. 

 
 

Food Security: With over 1.2 million New Yorkers identified as being food insecure before Covid-19*, and with major job loss and homeschooling, the number of families accessing food through emergency distribution sites has ballooned. No family should be without access to food. We should expand the work with existing community-based organizations to further develop community farming and work to establish a permanent farmers market in Southeast Queens and the Rockaways.

 

We can convene a task force of stakeholders, including local supermarket owners, to help identify additional ways to provide access to quality foods for residents and consumers. I will advocate for the expansion of SNAP guidelines to allow for recipients to use benefits at farmers markets and farm stands. As councilwoman, I will also allocate funding to the City’s Health Bucks program so that residents in the district can participate and immediately increase access to healthy food and green markets.

*https://www.foodbanknyc.org/research-reports/

Youth: Let's help our kids be kids again! We need to create safe spaces where they can enjoy programming and recreational activities, free of charge. This would help to get our kids off of the streets and into spaces where their parents would not have to worry about their safety. This is why as Councilwoman I would work to identify underutilized city land to build a community recreational center that would offer programming for the youth. I would also prioritize funding for the summer youth employment program. 

 

Small Businesses, MWBE Support: Many of our small and minority-and-women-owned-enterprises are owned and staffed by people from right within our community. With the mandated closures spanning for over eight months many of our familiar businesses have shut their doors for good. This is why the City must work with the Governor to establish a more streamlined reopening plan that will help to prevent loss of business in our community to our neighbors across the border, in Long Island.

 

Workforce Development and Job Creation: As we begin to adjust and find our new normal, we must begin to look at the future jobs that will become available and begin to train the local workforce to have the necessary training and skills to be hired. The Council should also identify the workforce development networks and ecosystems currently doing this work and increase funding to programs and solutions we already know produce outcomes where people are employed and earning good wages. We must partner with community-based organizations to develop relevant curriculum that will help ensure our community thrives with good-paying jobs.

 

Community Development: Leveraging one of the nation's largest infrastructure programs of our times at JFK International Airport, I would continue to collaborate with community and business groups to ensure our community benefits from the $13 billion redevelopment of JFK. While working with the Port Authority to strengthen community relations and actualize community betterment, we hope to establish an educational pipeline into aviation careers and direct investment into the local economy.

 

Senior Advocacy: Our seniors are the cornerstone of our community and we must do all that we can to ensure their programs are fully funded. As councilwoman I will also invest in programming to provide technology training to increase literacy among our older residents.

 

Environmental Stewardship: The 31st district is one of the most vulnerable communities as a result of global warming and climate change. This is why we must deliver investments into resiliency of our shoreline and infrastructure improvements across the entire district, including in Springfield Gardens and in Rosedale.

 
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