Home Youth empowerment Elicker brings an optimistic perspective to his annual State of the City address

Elicker brings an optimistic perspective to his annual State of the City address

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The mayor addressed youth engagement, housing and public safety in his annual speech.


Staff journalists


Tim Tai, staff photographer

After nearly two years of pandemic crises, New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker is more optimistic about 2022.

During his annual State of the City address to the Board of Alders on Monday evening, Elicker highlighted Elm City’s improved financial stability and its plans to provide public safety, affordable housing and the creation of richness.

“I am confident in saying that our city has never been better positioned to meet these long-standing challenges,” Elicker said from City Hall, during his first in-person State of the City address since. the start of the pandemic. “We have a lot of work to do… [but] we [are] walk[ing] towards a day when in New Haven, every resident has the opportunity to thrive.

Elicker began the speech by discussing public safety and youth engagement initiatives. Last year, the city spearheaded the expansion of various summer programs, providing employment opportunities for the 750 young applicants to the [email protected] program and opening new camps for young children. Elicker mentioned another project that has restored New Haveners’ access to essential youth services and community resources – the reopening of the Q-House in the “heart” of the Dixwell community.

He also referenced the proposed $10 million increase in funding for youth engagement initiatives as part of the Phase 3 allocation of US bailout funds.

“After a year of virtually no summer commitments and a year of remote learning, our young people needed more — a lot more,” Elicker said. “Summer camps and [email protected] are essential tools for keeping young people engaged in productive activity, helping them learn new skills, meet new friends and earn some extra money.”

The mayor linked these programs to broader efforts to reduce violent crime. He noted that violence has increased and city services have declined as a result of the pandemic. 25 people died by homicide in New Haven in 2021 — the most since 2011 — and 2022 started with three shootings in three days. Elicker said that while the city has brought many violence prevention programs online, those virtual offerings weren’t as effective.

Elicker announced the city’s expansion of Project Longevity, a crime prevention program that some residents have criticized for its ties to law enforcement. Last year, the city also opened a reentry reception center, which supports incarcerated former residents.

The police are “an important part, but only part of the citywide strategy to address violence,” Elicker said. However, New Haven recently decided to invest in 500 new surveillance cameras, despite the presence of what Elicker called “vocal skeptics”. The city has also expanded its police recruiting efforts and recently sworn in seven new sergeants, including one who has been the subject of excessive force allegations.

Elicker then turned his attention to housing.

“New Haven is booming. You look around the corner – cranes in the sky, buildings going up everywhere,” Elicker said. “On the other hand, so many New Haveners are in deep housing trouble.”

The city has received more than $6 million in federal housing and urban development grants for its abatement programs, enabling an increase in the rate of housing inspections and providing workers with new technology to download inspection reports in real time. Currently, there is an ongoing proposal to invest $10 million of ARP funding in strengthening housing programs, such as rental assistance, down payment assistance, and fair housing funds, as well as the city’s efforts to create a land reserve to “secure” important properties. before the big out-of-town developers do.

New Haven has also updated its housing policy in recent months, passing new ordinances regarding inclusive zoning and secondary suites. Among the values ​​Elicker emphasized was being “humane, inclusive and equitable” in terms of the city’s approach to housing service delivery.

Economically, Elicker cited both the dedication of interdisciplinary institutions to fostering a culture of economic growth as well as the importance of creating jobs for the public through outside projects. He drew particular attention to the city’s mission to support Black and Brown-owned small businesses through increased grant opportunities and expanded collaborations with the Financial Empowerment Center to “support creative entrepreneurs.”

He stressed that New Haven has a responsibility to its young people even beyond high school and the summer months, and that the city must ensure that every young person receives guidance on their journey to a “career that pays enough to support [their] families.” This applies whether this “journey” involves earning a four-year college degree or attending a vocational and technical school. Currently, New Haven plans to invest approximately $8 million in ARP funding in professional and technical development with the intention of creating an “entrepreneurial pipeline” and serving job seekers in “every way” possible.

Some attendees at the meeting said they appreciated the mayor’s statements, including some members of Local 884, which represents employees of the Livable City Initiative, the police department and other city entities.

“I agree that things are looking up,” Kym Bray, acting president of Local 844, told The News. “Housing is important. And I agree that he talked about getting people the funding they need and jobs for people.

However, Bray said she was concerned about the city’s lack of process for contract negotiations with the union. The union submitted a request for a public hearing on the contract, but it was not discussed at the Alders’ council meeting on Monday night.

Many of the initiatives Elicker cited have been made possible by recent city budget increases. Elicker celebrated increasing contributions from the state — from $41 million to $90 million a year — and from Yale — from $13 million to $23 million a year. Combined, this represents an increase of nearly 10% in New Haven’s annual revenue.

“This additional funding pulled us out of the precipice,” Elicker said. “It won’t be easy, but this year will be radically different. From a budgetary point of view, we can finally stand on two feet.

Alders echoed the mayor’s assessment of New Haven’s progress on gun violence, housing and youth services, but also noted that the city will continuously explore options for new collaborations with other organizations. to provide expanded services.

“As a board of directors, we all continue to deliberate and determine the priorities that we need to,” Ward 1 Alder Alex Guzhnay ’24 told The News.

Elicker delivered the address at City Hall, which is located at 165 Church St.




SADIE BOGRAD




Sadie Bograd covers the town hall. She is also a producer of the Full Disclosure podcast. She is a Kentucky freshman at Davenport College majoring in prospective urban studies.

BRIAN ZHANG


Brian Zhang covers COVID-19 and Yale New Haven Health, as well as housing and homelessness. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, he is a freshman at Davenport studying biology and journalism.