NYC Public Advocate Passes Eleven Bills In 2023

December 29th, 2023

Press Release

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams passed eleven pieces of legislation through the City Council in 2023 as prime sponsor. These bills range from public safety measures, to environmental protections and housing safety, to helping veterans and homeless New Yorkers access services. To date, Public Advocate Williams has passed 26 pieces of legislation since taking office, more than all previous officeholders combined.

Among the legislation passed this year were several reforms to the criminal legal system and city jails, amid an ongoing crisis on Rikers Island. They include:

Intro 549-A, which would end the use of solitary confinement in city jails by putting in place enforceable standards that uphold both the due process rights and well-being of incarcerated people, closing loopholes and focusing on rehabilitation.

Int. 349-A, which mandates that the Department of Correction (DOC) provides dyslexia screenings for  incarcerated individuals and evidence-based intervention programs to individuals who are diagnosed with dyslexia during the screening.

Intro 887-B, which requires the DOC to regularly report on information on status of and services related to individuals in custody whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned to the individual at birth, including, transgender, gender nonconforming, non-binary, or intersex individuals.

The Public Advocate passed three bills to increase transparency and accountability in policing, including:

Intro 586-A would require the NYPD to log and report basic information on level one, two, and three investigative encounters between the police and civilians, in order to collect data and help prevent bias and over-policing. This reporting can be accomplished through a brief smartphone survey, and does not apply to casual conversations with the community.

Intro 585-A would require the NYPD to turn over body-worn camera footage to the Department of Investigation's Inspector General for the NYPD within ten days of receiving a request. If footage is withheld, the Department must provide a written explanation to DOI, within ten business days which includes a citation to the specific law or laws that prohibit disclosure.

Intro 781-A would require the NYPD to document information surrounding vehicle stops, including the justification for the stop, whether an observed offense was cited as justification, and whether the offense constituted an infraction, a violation, a misdemeanor or felony.

In line with the Public Advocate’s annual release of the Worst Landlord Watchlist, this year he passed Intro 583-A, the “Worst Landlord Law,” to help prevent fraudulent repairs by bad landlords by denying self-certification for repeat offenders, and increase accountability for failure to correct hazardous violations, including by increasing financial penalties.

Additionally, to support the creation of sustainable housing, Intro 689-A would broaden the parameters for certain green infrastructure project incentives to include in one to four family homes and eliminate fees for those projects.

To further address the housing and homelessness crisis, he passed Intro 190-A to produce a statement of rights of homeless New Yorkers both outside of and within the city’s shelter system, as well as standards required to be met within shelters. The law mandates that the city distribute information about these rights to individuals in need.

Another bill passed by the public advocate is also centered on informing New Yorkers of their rights and resources – Intro 1244 provides veterans with information about city services available to them, both online and through distribution of pamphlets in community spaces.

Finally, Intro 805-A will require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to expedite studies of traffic crashes involving pedestrian fatalities or serious injuries every four years, and to make reports available on any location with four or more such incidents. These studies would analyze the factors behind crashes and develop strategies to improve pedestrian safety.

In addition to legislative achievements, the office released key reports this year to inform the public, review agency actions, and shape policy discussions through recommendations. These included Out of Service: Creating an Equitable Transit System for New York City, a report to outline the inequities disabled New Yorkers experience while using public transit in New York City, and Orange Sky, Red Alert: A Review of Air Quality Emergencies in NYC, which finds shortcomings in the city’s response to the air quality emergency.

The Public Advocate’s office also addressed New Yorkers’ needs through the Constituent Services team. In 2023, they provided direct assistance to the public on issues including housing and utilities, health access, education, and much more. Whether virtually or face to face, they come up against challenging issues for New Yorkers who need an advocate in their city and in their government. From June 2022 to June 2023, our unit received and addressed nearly 2600 constituent cases related to  federal, state, and local government.

After an extremely productive 2023 in the areas of legislation, policy, community affairs and engagement, and constituent services, the office is resolved to continue to hold the government accountable, lift up the needs of New Yorkers, and deliver real change in our city.

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