2024 State of the People Address

Jumaane Williams state of the people address

On Wednesday, May 22nd, NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams delivered a powerful “State of the People” address, shedding light on the pressing concerns of New Yorkers and sharing heartfelt testimonies from diverse residents across the city. Brendez Wineglass, IMPACCT Brooklyn’s Resource Development Manager attended the event.

During his address, Williams underscored the pervasive sense of fear among New Yorkers, which extends beyond physical safety to fears of economic instability, housing insecurity, and social inequality. He quoted Franklin D. Roosevelt, stating, “There is more to FEAR than FEAR itself,” emphasizing that the fear of safety, lack of opportunity, and systemic neglect continues to haunt many in the city.

A significant portion of the address was dedicated to voices from the community. Testimonies included stories from tenants, homeowners, and many immigrants. A food delivery driver poignantly highlighted the need for better infrastructure and support for essential workers who play a crucial role in keeping the city moving. Williams called for increased recognition and support for these workers, advocating for their safety and well-being.

One of the most striking stories came from a young student residing in a high-risk neighborhood. Despite the challenging environment, the student is now pursuing education at Columbia University, crediting community intervention programs like Project Restore for mediating gang activity and providing a pathway to peace and success. This story illustrated the potential of community-based initiatives to transform lives and reduce violence.

Williams emphasized the necessity of redefining roles within the community and shifting accountability to elevate community mediation efforts. He stressed that young people need more supportive spaces rather than places that exclude them. New Yorkers desire opportunities to live, learn, and connect in a safe environment. The Public Advocate highlighted the difference between merely interrupting violence and actively producing peace.

The address also touched on the importance of dignity, especially for those facing housing insecurity. Williams pointed out that neurodivergent individuals often suffer under the current housing system, which fails to accommodate their unique needs, leading to a loss of dignity. He announced the launch of a storytelling platform, “Who’s Your Landlord,” aimed at amplifying tenants’ voices and addressing housing issues more effectively.

Additionally, the Community Land Act was mentioned to enable community-based organizations to participate in developing supportive and affordable housing, reinforcing the concept of “Public Land for Public Good.”

In his closing remarks, Williams reflected on the dual nature of fear and aspirations, both of which reside in the future. He articulated a shared immigrant dream among New Yorkers—a dream of entering a “New World” full of opportunities. Despite the adversity, he emphasized that New Yorkers are not running away from challenges but running towards change.

He called for strong, courageous leadership to match the resilience and hope of the city’s residents.

Williams’ address was a call to action for all New Yorkers to support each other, strive for equity, and work collectively towards a brighter, safer, and more inclusive future. As he aptly stated, “We are 8 million New Yorkers. Not running from, but running toward change. Not Afraid. Activated!”

Please tune in for New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams’ Annual State of the People address, By Office of the NYC Public Advocate.

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