Angela Perez, Contributing Photographer

During its Monday session, the New Haven Board of Alders unanimously approved a new legislative agenda for the upcoming year.

The approval comes a week after much of the agenda was submitted for public discussion during last Thursday’s three-hour-long Health and Human Services meeting. At that meeting, residents voiced their support for the agenda and reiterated why its priorities are crucial. The approved agenda designates that the alders will prioritize policy development in the following five topics over the next year: jobs for New Haveners, public safety, health equity, environmental justice and quality, affordable housing.

The resolution makes note of the way the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities present in the city. Each of the priorities listed builds into a larger theme of equity.

 “[The] entire board has come together to lay out this roadmap, so everyone in this city understands what the priorities are. … Through us, we will see changes. Through us, we will see justice for all,” Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison said.

Throughout the meeting, Morrison’s fellow alders emphasized the priorities of the legislative agenda. When the board surveyed around 5,000 New Haven residents, 85 percent placed connecting residents with good jobs in their top five priorities, followed by community policing and free summer meals at 67 percent each. Then, when ranking the most pressing neighborhood issues in order of priority, 71 percent ranked good jobs in the top five, while education and public safety came in second and third, with 67 percent and 61 percent, respectively, ranking them in the top five.

Pastor Kelcy Steele, a resident of the Dixwell neighborhood, was among those who spoke during last Thursday’s committee hearing. He told committee members he approves of the agenda’s list of priorities because they reflect the longstanding issues within the community. 

“The city of New Haven has been hit badly during COVID-19. However, we were struggling long before the pandemic,” he said. “Children attend underfunded schools, our public works department is stretched thin, our police force has continued to get smaller and smaller, and many of our residents live from paycheck to paycheck in deep intergenerational poverty.”

Ward 7 Alder Abigail Roth, who represents downtown and parts of East Rock, voiced her support for the agenda, while noting that finances could pose a threat to the city’s ability to make progress on it. She mentioned that while some solutions do not require large monetary commitments, the city will eventually need to reckon with the financial burden that many of these solutions bear. Roth added that under both budget scenarios proposed by Mayor Justin Elicker on Monday there will be a minimum $16 million increase in pension costs since last year.

“I worry that if we don’t find a way to address this, we won’t be able to move forward on these critical goals,” Roth said.

Ward 1 Alder Eli Sabin ’22, who represents most of Yale’s campus, told his fellow alders that he will work to make sure “that Yale and Yale New Haven Hospital step up and contribute the resources our city needs.” He added that there needs to be a “new deal from Yale and the Hospital,” echoing calls made by Elicker and other local officials.

The resolution ends by calling “on the city’s partners to increase their commitment of resources to support the city’s ability to provide services to residents and to make strategic investments that advance the policy goals set forth in this legislative agenda.”

Recordings of last Thursday’s Health and Human Services Committee meeting and Monday’s Board of Alders meeting are available for viewing here.

Ángela Pérez | angela.perez@yale.edu

ÁNGELA PéREZ
Ángela Pérez writes as a staff reporter for the City, WKND and Sports desks, where she primarily covers City Hall and the Board of Alders. Originally from Puerto Rico, she plans to double major in Architecture and History.