Our community has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19. As of December, we had lost over 500 neighbors too soon and our rate of cases continued to be among the highest in the city. Despite the health risks, New York City streets have been full of passionate New Yorkers demanding dignity for Black lives. Together, we will rebuild toward a more just society. But, ensuring our community gets the support and resources we need will require vocal and effective leadership. With her extensive experience in public service and progressive policy, Pierina is the fighter we need for a just recovery.
From racist policing to inequities in health and educational attainment, and gentrification and displacement – solving our most intractable problems requires a social justice framework. To accomplish a more equitable city, we must take steps to dismantle structural racism; uproot bias against our trans and queer neighbors; protect our immigrants; fight to increase wages for our workers in all policy making; and protect the earth and ensure the humane treatment of all life. As we stand together and support one another during these difficult times, we must fight for a just recovery that centers the most impacted and the most oppressed, and build a healthier and more equitable future.
One of my earliest memories is of tenant harassment, as strong women in my life – my mom and my tía – were harassed for daring to fight for their rights. This is why I have fought for housing as a human right in my urban planning research, activism, and leadership on Community Board 5.
In our district, where 96% of our neighbors are renters, 70% of residents were one paycheck away from being late on the rent before COVID-19 hit. Our City’s affordability crisis keeps lower-income New Yorkers at constant and persistent risk of displacement. At a time where our lives can depend on our ability to stay safely in our homes, we must win the fight to #CancelRent during the pandemic, and the fights to support truly affordable housing, and save NYCHA, longterm.
Our community has faced a lack of quality and affordable housing for decades. With her roots in this community, policy expertise, and a commitment to deeply affordable housing, Pierina is the candidate this community needs.John GarciaCommunity Resident & Affordable Housing Leader
As a council member, I will draw on my personal and professional experience in housing injustice to fight for:
Growing up, my family grinded to get by. The relatives who were able to get good union jobs - cleaning hallways and porting buildings - were the ones who were not only able to provide for their families, but to serve as a safety net for the rest of us. This is why as senior advisor for labor in City Hall I worked hand in hand with labor unions and advocates to fight for good jobs in our community.
Today, good jobs are scarcer than ever in our community: our 17% unemployment rate - which has nearly doubled during this crisis - and $21,000 median income were already some of the lowest in the city, and then COVID-19 hit. We are a resilient Bronx community, but our resilience must be met with investment and resources from city government. We must increase support to our small businesses, invest in our local entrepreneurs, and fight for good, union jobs for our neighbors.
When COVID-19 hit, city government wasn’t here for us. But Pierina was. She has an unwavering commitment to providing small businesses with opportunity and protecting workers. Her policies for economic opportunity will help to transform our community for the better.Maribel WilsonCommunity Resident & Small Business Owner
As a council member I will draw on my family’s strength, my community’s resilience, and my professional experience to fight for:
As an ESL student, I had a mix of supportive and unsupportive educational environments growing up. But one thing is certain – because of the adults in my life that believed in me, and publicly-funded programs like Upward Bound at Bronx Community College that invested in me, I was able to excel to reach Harvard and Princeton, the White House and City Hall. This is why I have advocated for more resources as ambassador of the Upward Bound program, and pushed for education equity through working groups of South Bronx Rising Together.
Today, only 17% of NYC public school children participate in after-school programs, leaving over 600,000 lower-income public school students citywide unable to access after-school/enrichment programming. And these opportunities for educational enrichment are even more rare in our Bronx community. This has never been more important than in this moment of at-home and hybrid learning. We must ensure schools are adequately resourced, with programming after school, on weekends, and over summers, and that students have access to a high-quality internet connection.
When 12-year old Pierina began in our upward bound program, I knew she would one day care for our community. At a time when our children are receiving less support than ever, we need local representatives who will fight for their opportunities as Pierina always has. In office, she is going to advocate for the public education and programming our youth need for a bright future.Michelle F. Danvers FoustBronx Public Education Leader
As a council member, I will draw on my personal and professional experience in public education to fight for:
Like too many of our Bronx community, I have lost family and neighbors who had preexisting conditions to COVID-19. City investments in community health saves lives. This is why I have advocated for health equity on the boards of Union Community Health Center and Morris Heights Health Center Foundation, and advocated for PPE and protections for our healthcare workers inside City Hall alongside union and advocacy partners.
Our Bronx neighbors have died from COVID-19 at double the rate as the rest of the city. Our risk for COVID-19 is connected to a long history of limited access to medical professionals, a lack of quality healthcare, and the highest rates of all New York counties in preexisting conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity (#Not62). This pandemic has demonstrated that the current approach to healthcare in our community is broken and must be solved before more lives are lost. We must invest in preventive care, including housing and preventive medicine, and support our public hospitals to ensure that all have access to quality mental and physical healthcare.
Our healthcare workers and families need someone who can deliver when we are in need. Both before and after COVID-19 hit our Bronx community, Pierina has proven that she has the experience and acumen to support the health and wellbeing of our neighbors.Robert MercedesCommunity Healthcare Leader & Public School Principal
As a council member, I will draw on my personal and professional experience in community health to fight for:
My family, like so many others in our Bronx community, has felt the pain of violence, including brutal police violence and mass incarceration. This is why I have tutored young people in prisons, promoted effective violence interruption programs that build from community strength like CeaseFire, and advocated to close Rikers while in City Hall.
Our approach to community safety simply does not work to protect us: Bronx families have loved ones incarcerated at higher rates than any other borough, yet up to 90% of our neighbors stopped and frisked by NYPD are innocent. And still our rates of violent crime are higher than any other borough. What causes spikes in crime is a lack of economic opportunities and social support structures, and unaddressed community needs. We must invest in safe communities where people have housing, food, education and jobs.
Pierina is there for our community at every turn, whether it’s mutual aid or just helping our local organizations apply for grants. Those of us who know our Bronx community understand that opportunity prevents violence. Pierina is the candidate we need to invest our resources into empowering our people rather than policing them.Salim DrammehCommunity Resident, Bronx Public School Teacher, Mutual Aid Organizer, & Youth Empowerment Activist
As council member, I will draw on my knowledge of our community’s struggle with the criminal justice system and professional experience to fight for:
When I was a kid, I would cross and play near the Cross Bronx Expressway to visit family and play in my favorite parks. Today, many of my family members suffer from asthma and respiratory illnesses. This is why I have centered environmental justice in urban planning activism and support our Bronx community gardens.
We have some of the highest asthma and chronic health conditions in the world because of a history of environmental injustice that included placing highways next to our homes and greenspaces, and building Bronx-based peaker plants. Today, our Bronx community is on the frontline of the climate crisis both in terms of exposure to climate risk, and demand access to resources to recover from a climate disaster. We must fight against generations of environmental racism and disinvestment to build a brighter future.
Ever since I met Pierina, she has brought her entire spirit to caring for our garden. Pierina cares deeply about protecting our green spaces in the Bronx. Her commitment to climate justice and protecting our community gardens will be so powerful for our people.Carrol CuthbertsonCommunity Resident & Community Garden President
As a council member, I will draw on my roots in our greenspaces and professional experience to fight for: