Issues

A Progressive Vision for New York City.

Housing

Melissa knows NYCHA is the cornerstone of affordable housing in New York City—because she represented the district with the highest concentration of public housing in the country. Melissa has dedicated much of her time as an elected official to fighting for NYCHA residents and speaking out about the deplorable living conditions its residents must endure.

To bring attention to these issues, Melissa held her first State of City Speech at a NYCHA complex in her district, and worked to push Albany to provide state funding for NYCHA’s capital needs for the first time in decades.

​While Speaker, Melissa made the preservation and expansion of the City’s affordable housing stock a top priority. Melissa passed legislation establishing the Affordable Housing Preservation Task Force to link members of the Council with community-based organizations, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development to work together on strategies to preserve affordable housing in Council districts. Melissa also passed legislation to protect rent-stabilized tenants from landlord harassment. And Melissa has supported efforts to stem the homelessness crisis by advocating for state subsidies to help people stay in their homes when they fall behind on their rent or mortgages.

​As Public Advocate, Melissa will champion ignored NYCHA residents and demand that every NYCHA resident has a safe place to live. She will work toward expanding and preserving affordable housing and support efforts to end the homelessness crisis.

Criminal Justice

Melissa believes every New Yorker should be treated fairly and equitably—no matter their zip code or the color of their skin. As Council Speaker, Melissa fought to reform the criminal justice system and improve relations between law enforcement and the community. Under her leadership, the City Council passed the Criminal Justice Reform Act to create fairer penalties for low-level, non-violent offenses. This legislation led to a 90% drop in criminal court summonses in its first year.

She also led the City Council in passing a major bail reform package that helped to facilitate a national conversation on abolishing cash bail.

Melissa was the first elected official to present a comprehensive plan to close Rikers Island after convening a special commission to study its feasibility.

As Public Advocate, Melissa will continue to fight for vulnerable New Yorkers unfairly trapped in the criminal justice system, promote better relations between law enforcement and community members, and work toward fulfilling her vision of closing Rikers Island.

Melissa Mark-Viverito has also called for an end to disparate prosecution policies by borough. Her plan, “Justice for All: End Borough Bias,” calls for District Attorneys in all five boroughs to follow one equal and consistent policy that reduces our jail population, prioritizes fairness and combats racial disparities in policing. From fare evasion to marijuana possession, prosecution policies currently vary widely by borough.

Public Safety

Melissa knows our communities are safest when police and the residents they serve, trust and respect each other. Under Melissa’s leadership, the City Council passed the Community Safety Act, which requires police officers to identify themselves to the public and ensures that police officers obtain voluntary and intelligent consent prior to conducting a consent search.

Melissa also led the charge to encourage community-based policing by securing funding to hire 1,300 new officers to enable the NYPD to better engage with City residents.

Healthcare

Melissa knows healthcare is a human right—and she has spent her career fighting for better public healthcare. During her tenure as Speaker of the City Council, Melissa funded the Access Health NYC Initiative, which provided funding to 17 community-based organizations throughout the 5 boroughs and delivered outreach and public education on healthcare and mental health access and coverage.

Melissa also worked to address the rise in Hepatitis B and C. She allocated funds to provide outreach, screening and detection efforts and passed legislation to require an annual report on Hepatitis B and C to help target the City’s efforts to address the epidemic.

To help end the AIDS epidemic in New York, under Melissa’s speakership the City Council  allocated $6.6 million to community-based prevention and supportive services— and worked to include extra funding in the City’s budget to expand prevention efforts.

Melissa spoke openly about her diagnosis of human papillomavirus (HPV) virus to help destigmatize the virus, and worked to advance efforts to raise awareness by calling on the state to permit young people under the age of 18 to consent to an HPV vaccine.

As Public Advocate Melissa will continue to work toward increasing access to, and reducing the cost of, healthcare for all New Yorkers.

Education

Melissa believes every child in New York has a right to quality education. Melissa was an early supporter of Universal Pre-K to provide all New York City families access to early childhood education. As Speaker, Melissa fought for the City’s fair share of education dollars. She secured funding for teachers to obtain training to become more culturally inclusive and passed legislation to provide more resources for parents whose children are victims of cyberbullying. She has supported establishing more New York City Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs for New York City students.

Under her leadership, the City Council made historic investments in summer youth programs and other employment programs for young people. The City Council under Melissa’s leadership established programs to address disengaged youth and provide them with more resources to obtain employment and education opportunities.

As Public Advocate, Melissa will continue to work to secure more funding for New York City public education students and will work to expand CTE and summer youth employment opportunities.

Labor

From her early days as an organizer for SEIU Local 1199, Melissa has been a strong ally to our brothers and sisters in labor. Melissa believes in the right to organize and the right to a living wage, benefits and safe working conditions. As a member of the Council, Melissa was the lead sponsor of the Car Wash Accountability Act which aimed to protect both workers and consumers and bring much needed oversight to the industry. She worked to pass groundbreaking legislation to support freelance workers and crack down on abusive scheduling practices for fast food and retail workers.

Melissa was one of the first elected officials to embrace the Fight for $15 movement and worked with activists to win a wage increase for fast-food employees. Her advocacy extended beyond New York City, and she worked alongside labor and workers’ rights partners in Albany to push an increase of the State minimum wage to $15 per hour. Melissa secured funding for the Helmets to Hardhat programs and other initiatives to provide technical training to help workers obtain employment in the construction trades. And she worked with members of the construction trades to pass the Construction Safety Act to protect the safety of workers.  

As Public Advocate, Melissa will continue to support the right to be a member of a labor union, a living wage, and worker safety.

Transportation

Melissa rides the subway every day — and she knows New Yorkers are sick of elected officials who point fingers instead of fixing the broken MTA.

Melissa has been an ardent supporter of congestion pricing to secure funding to improve the MTA, and voted in favor of congestion pricing in 2008. Melissa recently launched “Weed for Rails,” a groundbreaking plan to legalize marijuana and use tax revenue to quickly invest in MTA repairs.

Melissa is a proud advocate for pedestrian safety. As Speaker, Melissa passed the groundbreaking Vision Zero legislative package to improve pedestrian safety and eliminate traffic fatalities. Melissa supports efforts to increase access to bike share programs to all communities in New York City, and is a strong advocate for protecting our city’s bike lanes.

As Public Advocate, Melissa will work to pass congestion pricing, implement her Weed for Rails plan, and continue to push for access to bike share programs for all communities.

Human Rights

Standing up for vulnerable New Yorkers is what motivated Melissa to enter public life. She has a proven track record of fighting for the interests of the elderly, disabled, foster youth, LGBTQ and other groups facing discrimination. As Speaker, Melissa passed legislation to reform and strengthen the City’s Human Rights Law and Human Rights Commission.

She worked to protect transgender and gender-non-conforming persons from harassment and intimidation and, under her Speakership,  the City Council passed a law that required single-occupant restrooms to be useable by persons of any gender. The Council also passed legislation to help youth aging out of foster care obtain permanent housing and access to education. And Melissa provided assistance to the elderly and disabled by supporting initiatives to provide them with access to services and employment.

As Public Advocate, Melissa will continue to be a champion for all New Yorkers, and especially those facing discrimination and persecution. She released a comprehensive platform to support the LGBTQ community

Environment

As Speaker, Melissa worked to pass ground-breaking laws to cut down on harmful emissions and achieve environmental justice for all New Yorkers. She supported legislation to create the City’s first Environmental Justice working group.

She passed legislation to better protect the City from catastrophic storms like Sandy, and supported a law to imposes a 5 cent carryout bag fee to reduce the usage of plastic bags that harm the environment.

As Public Advocate, Melissa will continue to fight to protect and preserve our environment and will work to maintain the City and State’s pledge to continue to reduce its carbon imprint under the guidelines of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Women's Rights

Melissa is a champion for women’s rights. As Speaker, Melissa established the $20 million Young Women’s Initiative which helped to expand the Nurse-Family Partnership, established a contraception fund, worked to provide services for immigrant survivors of domestic violence, developed a women’s development leadership program and required city agencies to have gender equity liaisons. She strengthened human rights protections and established an office to protect the interests of domestic workers.

Fed up with the declining number of women serving in the City Council, Melissa co-founded the 21 for 21, a campaign to encourage and support more women to run for office. In the Council, Melissa supported legislation to protect women from fraudulent anti-abortion pregnancy service centers by imposing fines and regulation against misleading women seeking abortions.​

As Public Advocate, Melissa will continue to work to promote the interests of women and will work with the State Legislature to codify Roe v. Wade and access to an abortion. 

She will also introduce the “Worst Workplaces for Women Watchlist.” The watchlist will use a multi-pronged formula including sexual harassment complaints, pay gaps, staff diversity, family leave policies, and more to determine which workplaces — both public and private sector — are worst for women. The list will then be used as a tool to create incentives for improvement in workplace culture, leave policies and organizational diversity to better support the working women of New York City.

Immigration

During her time as Speaker, Melissa became a national leader in pioneering and enacting policies to protect our immigrant communities. Melissa began her Speakership by passing legislation to establish a Municipal ID to provide all New Yorkers a right to a government-issued ID card regardless of immigration status. And she worked to remove ICE from Rikers Island and secured funding to provide unaccompanied minors with attorneys.

Melissa used her platform as Speaker to call for the Obama administration to establish the DACA program to provide DREAMERs with some protection from deportation. Melissa’s leadership predates the Trump administration’s draconian immigration policies and the strategies that she pioneered are now being replicated throughout the country.

As Public Advocate, Melissa will continue to lead on immigration issues and will work to pass the New York State Dream Act and support efforts to provide undocumented immigrants with access to a New York State Driver License.

Recently, Melissa called on New York Chief Judge DiFiore to ban ICE agents from all New York courthouses. A new report found that ICE arrests in New York increased 1700% under Trump. In a letter, Melissa outlined her effort to convince DiFoire to ban ICE from courthouses back in 2016.

Good Government

Melissa is dedicated to an accountable and transparent City government. As Speaker, Melissa passed a historic and comprehensive rules reform to empower all members of the City Council to advance legislation, improve transparency and provide equitable funding for every district. She championed important campaign finance reforms, including on independent campaign expenditures, and eliminated outside income and “lulus” for Council Members.

As Public Advocate, Melissa will work for the passage of a voting rights and election administration bill that that will reform the State’s voting system and remove barriers to voting. Specifically, Melissa will advocate for legislation that would allow for automatic, online and same-day voter registration, as well as early voting, online submission of absentee ballot applications, and ‘no excuse’ absentee voting. State and federal primaries would be consolidated into a single day and the deadline to change parties to vote in a primary would be moved closer to the election.

She will also work to increase language access services at the polls and restore voting rights for people on parole.