For more than an hour inside the community room at The Shops at Atlas Park, the comptroller answered questions on broad city issues and specific local concerns.
“I always come away from these meetings knowing a lot more after I leave than when I walk in,” Stringer said. “This is just straight talk.”
On the issue of homelessness, the comptroller said he believes the city has to do a better job of seeing what’s working and what’s not.
“We can’t keep spending without making a dent in the homeless population,” he said.
Glendale residents have long faced the prospect of a homeless shelter coming to the neighborhood, specifically the site at 78-16 Cooper Avenue.
While Stringer said he doesn’t believe anything is signed yet for the property, he pledged to work with Councilman Robert Holden to turn the site into a school.
Stringer was also asked about the mayor’s affordable housing plan, which he criticized for not focusing enough on the needs of low-income residents.
He suggested the stakeholders look at his housing plan instead, which would prioritize the 582,000 households that are “one step away from homelessness.”
Stringer’s proposal would spend $500 million to build long-term affordable housing for those who are “extremely low income” or “very low income.” It would also triple the set-aside of new apartments for homeless families.
One attendee from Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Glendale asked the comptroller for help getting a school safety officer.
According to the attendee, the city has a 300-student minimum for a school to receive a safety officer. Sacred Heart has 294 students.
Stringer said that policy seems “ridiculous,” and said he would work to resolve the issue.
“Security is the one thing on parents’ mind every single day,” he said. “There must be a better way, there must be some discretion.”
Several representatives from community-based organizations, including Maspeth Town Hall and the Greater Ridgewood Youth Council, asked the comptroller about nonprofits receiving their city funding too late, a problem that has plagued many local organizations.
Stringer responded that the city needs procurement reform, and that the charter revision commission would be the place to start.
GRYC President Bob Monahan also asked why universal pre-kindergarten teachers in nonprofits don’t get the same pay and benefits as their Department of Education (DOE) counterparts.
The comptroller said he agrees that there should be pay parity for all pre-K teachers.
“Nonprofits are not being valued by the city,” he said. “That’s got to change.”