Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Thursday unveiled a $1.4 billion plan aimed at revitalizing poverty-stricken neighborhoods in central Brooklyn.
Cuomo, speaking at an event at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College, said the project looked to combat longstanding problems plaguing the area — including gang violence, high levels of unemployment, and chronic health issues — by increasing access to affordable housing, health care centers, and after-school programs.
“If you look at unemployment rates, food stamps, physical inactivity, and number of murders, one of the greatest areas of need in the entire state is central Brooklyn,” Cuomo told an audience of civic leaders and students.
The plan calls for building more than 3,000 affordable housing units on six state-owned sites, creating 7,600 new jobs through a workforce training program and developing a network of 36 ambulatory care clinics in neighborhoods including East New York, Bedford Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.
The governor, whose name has been frequently floated as a potential presidential candidate in 2020, and who served as Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Bill Clinton, compared his initiative with Clinton’s push for “empowerment zones,” which in the early 1990s provided dozens of economically distressed communities throughout the United States — including Harlem — with tax incentives and federal funding aimed at spurring economic development.
Funding for the Brooklyn initiative is included in Cuomo’s proposed state budget, that must be voted on by state lawmakers by April 1.
Cuomo acknowledged that some critics might take issue with the project’s price tag, but said the project would prove cost-effective in the long run by driving down the state’s need to pay for incarceration costs or indigent emergency room care.
“You can either pay for a proper upbringing for a child, with proper healthcare, and proper support and proper education, or you can pay for a lifetime of dysfunction,” Cuomo said.
Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif said Republican lawmakers were reviewing all components of Cuomo’s proposed state budget, and were expected to deliver their response next week.
Cuomo’s speech came hours before New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was scheduled to host a town hall forum in Crown Heights to discuss his plans to combat homelessness.
“Anytime someone wants to invest and supplement the work we’re doing to make New York City stronger we welcome it with open arms,” said de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein.