District 1, Yonkers NY is a unique sector on the political map of contrasts. The northern border, converging at Hastings on Hudson, is the Gold Coast with glamorous high-rise buildings. It’s home to well-known athletes and renters who renew their $4000-per-month leases with ease.
The South Sector of District 1 on Ludlow Street is a densely packed cauldron of African Americans and Latinos struggling to survive in the never-ending encroachment process of gentrification. Your days of subsistence rent are numbered.
What they all have in common, however, is their current City Council Representative, Shanae Williams. The second-term councilwoman recently declared her candidacy for the Westchester County state legislature. She will challenge longtime Westchester County legislator Christopher Johnson.
Her current six-year legislative assistant, Deana Robinson, has stepped in to fill William’s role in an upcoming political contest for the District 1 council seat. Robinson, seen in a video interview on January 23, 2023, explains her political views and plans if she wins the city council seat. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiNU13fWq_M&t=942s
In a district of about 35,000 people and a median income of $40,000, the task is daunting. As developers continue to build six-figure white-collar housing, affordable housing for those with lesser means is fading.
Although developers have vowed to allocate 10 percent of their rents to affordable housing, competition for those rents is overwhelming. Not only teachers, uniformed service staff and workers are taken into account, but also undocumented persons.
Undocumented individuals are eligible for affordable housing and low-income housing if the head of household is a US citizen. The increase in migrants seeking a better life in the area is increasing demand and reducing supply. The affordable housing lottery is open to them if they have a birth certificate, passport and/or social security number.
Housing shortages have increased the number of homeless people, particularly in District 1. “We know there is a huge population of homeless people in the city of Yonkers, most of whom are concentrated in District 1,” Councilwoman Williams said. “But there are many unanswered questions, and until we can openly ask and address those questions, we cannot move forward.” In her interview, Robinson is quite explicit about placing a homeless shelter in an area that voters might object to, calling it “hypocrisy.”
The sheltered homeless population of the city of Yonkers accounts for 43.3 percent of all homeless families in Westchester County. About 800 men, women and children make up Yonkers’ homeless population and space is limited. Banks have closed access to ATMs after dark because homeless people sleep in the antechambers. In 2020, the Yonkers City Council passed a begging ban to stop beggars from harassing pedestrians. https://ecode360.com/36614336. That did little to alleviate the problem.
There are thirty registered sex offenders in District 1. Many of these men are homeless. Although a shelter is needed, proper placement is critical. Yonkers’ southern border at W.263rd Street and Broadway is fighting the inevitable construction of a 160-bed men’s home. Despite protests from Riverdale residents and concerns from the Yonkers Police Department, construction is set to begin in a matter of months. NYC officials cannot guarantee that there will be no sex offenders in the community, a community meeting with NYC homeowners and officials found. It is the Borough Council’s job to ensure that the community is protected.
Keeping voters safe is not just the job of the City Council, but also the job of the Yonkers Police Department. And they were employed in District 1. The statistics for 2022 show the following: murder 1 rape 12 robbery 55 assault 148 burglary 45 theft 214 Stolen vehicle 47 The numbers aren’t overwhelming, but they’re enough to alert the frontline community on the Yonkers River. https://www.yelp.com/biz/apex-hudson-riverfront-yonkershttps://news.hamlethub.com/swyonkers/publicsafety/2719-yonkers-waterfront-woes
In the absence of any support from her District 1 councilwoman, a mass exodus ensues from 23 Water Grant Street. The property is near the apex but with fewer apartments. There are 39 units. 30 percent of the units are currently for sale. (see photo) The river view has lost its luster in exchange for summer chaos, vandalism, drugs and loud music.
This is important as the projected number of waterfront rental units approaches 4,000. Developments like Avalon spread rapidly. In this borough of 35,000 people, the average turnout for city council elections is 16,000. Four thousand people is twenty-five percent of that voter base. You have the ability to change the balance of power.
Both Williams and Robinson are in favor of bail reform. In a city where crime stats can easily tip in the red, however, Robinson owes an explanation of her position.
Where Robinson doesn’t make her position on bail reform clear, she is clear on school funding. She reiterates the politician’s mantra of more school funding, after-school programs and tutoring.
The city of Yonkers has several after-school programs for high school students. They vary from ESL to online tutoring https://www.ypl.org/onlinelearning/. The Police Athletic League and the Yonkers Police Department are rich in resources helping the youth of Yonkers. https://news.hamlethub.com/swyonkers/publicsafety/2722-free-programs-for-yonkers-youth
Due to the city’s population growth, more and more funding is required for Yonkers schools. However, there is a lack of verification of wasteful spending in the school system.
As of 2018, the Yonkers public school system offers free lunch to all students regardless of income. The federal government subsidizes school meals. On the other hand, benefits could be jeopardized if parents do not comply with the regulations. “Although the free meals-for-all policy may ease some of the district’s money bleeding, parental reluctance to return forms will still be an issue as the district must collect income data to remain compliant with other state and federal programs.” .” Lo Hud
In 2017, Yonkers Public School’s system lost $800,000 in revenue to unpaid lunch bills. Careful monitoring of school spending can pay off in the long run.
Dividends are not plentiful in City Council positions. Elected City Council members earn $48,000 a year. However, the details are in the benefits.
Robinson runs a PR company https://www.deanaetc.com/. The City Council position lends itself to a list of potential clients. The Trump presidency is a prime example. And let’s not forget the appeal of Lionsgate Studios aka Hollywood on the Hudson.
Although Lionsgate has no jobs, https://jobs.lionsgate.com/go/View-All-Openings/8023300/, it offers many photo ops with City Council members who have promised those jobs to Yonkers residents.
The job of a City Councilman in Yonkers District 1 is an important one in this election cycle. It takes more than vague promises with no plans. It requires experience and the ability to deal with the headwinds of an increasing homeless population and the demands of parking, police and eviction due to the expansion of waterfront rental units. The growing pains of progress require a steady hand. Without them, the music will explode and people will leave.