City lays out Brooklynites’ priorities in ‘NYC Speaks’ survey results

NYC Speaks co-executive director Shango Blake speaks at the unveiling of the citywide survey results on April 5.
NYC Speaks

The city on Tuesday released the findings from this year’s “NYC Speaks” survey, detailing both the citywide priorities of a broad spectrum of New Yorkers and the community-level concerns of Brooklynites.

The findings come after six months of community engagement, including a broad-based online survey answered by over 43,000 New Yorkers, including 11,618 Brooklynites. An additional 18,000 people answered the “Youth Speaks” survey specifically geared toward the priorities of young New Yorkers. 

“After extensive community outreach across the five boroughs, we surpassed our goal of 50,000 responses to conduct the largest public policy survey in New York City history,” said Dr. Shango Blake, co-executive director of NYC Speaks, in a statement. “In addition, we are proud to announce that 18,400 youth between the ages of 14 and 17 responded to this survey.”

Brooklyn respondents said the number one way to make their communities safer is to build more affordable housing and reduce homelessness. The Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens all said the same, while Staten Island’s preference was to hire more police officers.

Brooklynites also favored deploying mental health professionals as first responders in lieu of police over other government interventions to keep their communities safe.

As far as public infrastructure, more Brooklynites said they would like to see infrastructure investments in high-quality recreation centers with enrichment programming like arts and sports than any other upgrades, including public transit like express bus lanes, green space, and high-speed internet.

In terms of approving large projects, Brooklynites said that the city should develop plans that “all parties can live with,” rather than prioritizing either citywide benefits or the quality-of-life concerns for local residents. Manhattanites and Queensites also call for a kumbaya compromise, while Bronxites and Staten Islanders believe local residents’ concerns should be prioritized.

With an estimated 1-in-10 New Yorkers facing food insecurity, Brooklynites said that the most important investment to improve community health is a greater concentration of grocery stores and farmers’ markets in Kings County neighborhoods. Other important investments would include parks and greenspaces, and indoor gyms and fitness centers. As for pharmacies, Brooklynites said they have enough of those.

Meanwhile, Brooklynites join the residents of all other boroughs in being most likely to say the city needs to centralize housing resources into a single app, more so than resources for any other area of government. 

The survey breaks down its results by a variety of crosstabs, such as race, gender, sexuality, income, and housing status. It also breaks its results down to the Zip Code level, showing the differing priorities of New Yorkers by neighborhood. For instance, Red Hook residents differ in their public infrastructure priorities than the borough at-large, preferring transportation investments in their transit-desert neighborhood.

Survey honchos will now begin a series of “community conversations” to discuss the results and inform a final “NYC Speaks Action Plan” in June guiding a “tangible course of government action,” starting Tuesday night with a virtual forum hosted by the League of Women Voters.

“We’re proud to release this data today but this is just the first step in the process,” Blake said. “We look forward to launching the Community Conversations to engage the community on our findings and build a stronger, more thriving city.”