In the eyes of Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights, Inwood), the State of the District Address serves a vital purpose that he dares not neglect. Rodriguez uses the annual event to both highlight the progress he’s made in the past year and to be as transparent as possible about his future goals.
“Since being elected in 2009 I have been holding the State of the District each year,” said Rodriguez. “I believe it was important to highlight the success stories of our uptown community, and most importantly to hold myself accountable to the constituency that I am proud to represent. I have made sure that I ran my office with the values of dignity, honesty and transparency.”
Rodriguez delivered his tenth annual State of the District address yesterday at 2:30 p.m. The event took place at the Fort Washington Avenue Armory, 216 Fort Washington Ave. He was joined by several of his colleagues, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D), Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and fellow Council Member Mark Levine (D-Manhattan Valley, Manhattanville).
Rodriguez used the event as a way to reflect on everything he’s accomplished – not just in the past year, but also in the past decade since he took office. As a Council Member, one of his top priorities has been to facilitate a future where everyone can receive a quality education, regardless of racial background or socioeconomic status.
Thus, he was particularly proud of his accomplishments in regards to making educational programs more accessible to working-class families. Earlier this year, he secured a $1 million grant to fund a partnership between CCNY’s STEM Institute and Northern Manhattan. The partnership granted Northern Manhattan students the opportunity to attend CCNY’s Saturday and Sunday Program, free of charge.
“When I took office, many schools in our district were failing and falling behind other communities in New York City,” said Rodriguez. “I am proud to say that today all schools in our district are in good standing! We will remain committed to improving the quality of education we offer our children each and, every day. Our children deserve to have the same quality of education provided to students in the middle class and upper class communities.”
The Council member also spoke highly of the progress his district has made in securing affordable housing. When he took office, one of the district’s biggest problems was the dearth of affordable housing. Between 2001 and 2013, the City only built 250 new affordable housing units for Community Board 12. At the same time, the area was suffering from an epidemic of tenant harassment.
But with the help of the community, the mayor and his colleagues in the City Council, Rodriguez was able to turn things around. By his account, the district is on track to build 1,300 new affordable housing units in the next three years. He has also supported initiatives to provide tenants with access to free legal services, so they can effectively contest unjust evictions.
“Together, in front of our own eyes, we have seen the quality of life in our community transform,” said Rodriguez. “By building more affordable housing, we create an environment where those who have lived here can continue to do so.”
Rodriguez also took the opportunity to announce a few new milestones that they recently achieved. Most notably, he announced that all of the schools in School District 6 will be receiving in-school robotics programs. His office, in collaboration with NYC First Robotics, will be bringing Lego’s New Spike Prime program to all of his district’s schools.
“I would like to thank Michael Zigman from NYC FIRST Robotics for helping us with this, as well as superintendent Manny Ramirez and a number of Principals for being leaders in STEM education,” said Rodriguez. “We are preparing our students to be leaders in STEM, the industry of the 21st century. The industry has left out females, black, and latino children. Our students should be prepared with the skills they need to have good paying jobs so that they and their families can stay in our communities.”
Rodriguez concluded by thanking the community for allowing him to represent them, claiming that it has been an “honor and privilege” to serve them.
“I want each of you to know that it has been an honor and privilege to serve you,” said Rodriguez. “I will continue to fight as I have for 40 years, not only as an elected official but as a fighter for social justice.”