Investing in NYCHA and permanent affordable housing for low-income New Yorkers are just some of the suggestions.
As New Yorkers protested against racism and police brutality over the past few weeks, the NYPD was caught on video clashing with demonstrators several times: shoving a 20-year-old woman against the pavement, hitting individuals with batons, and driving into a crowd with an SUV.
Meanwhile, the City Council has been in negotiations with the de Blasio administration to set the budget for the fiscal year 2021. That, coupled with the nationwide protests against police brutality, has resurfaced calls from advocates to defund the NYPD’s $6 billion budget and invest $1 billion of those funds — to begin with — in social and homeless services, as well as housing.
Following a push from various nonprofits and organizers, the de Blasio administration agreed to move the NYPD away from street-vendor enforcement while allocating some funds from the police department’s budget toward youth and social services. However, details on the specific amount that will be invested have yet to be released, and it’s unclear whether or not some of those funds would go toward parks, homeless services, or housing.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the city was experiencing a housing and homelessness crisis. There are over 60,000 New Yorkers sleeping in shelters every night and more than 3,000 unsheltered New Yorkers, who are predominantly black and Hispanic. And individuals who sleep in subway stations are often targeted by the police (and, at times, given summonses) through the de Blasio administration’s Diversion Program. As several organizations have pointed out, scaling back the NYPD’s presence in homeless outreach could contribute funds to invest in other programs and sorely needed services.
Meanwhile, proposed cuts to the Housing Preservation and Development capital budget will potentially slow down the creation of affordable and supportive housing for low-income New Yorkers in the years to come.
Here, we asked housing and homeless organizers, advocates, and politicians what they would do if $1 billion were taken out of the NYPD’s budget.