In an exclusive interview with NY1, former President Bill Clinton said he hopes New York City’s next mayor focuses on affordable housing and rent.
"I hope one of the things the new mayor will do is take that into consideration, see what we can do to get everybody together to make the rents bearable," he said. "The rents have to bear some relationship to your revenue."
The de Blasio administration has made the creation and preservation of affordable housing a priority, and its approach generally has been to grant developers rezoning wishes on the condition that they create affordable housing. But a recent report by the Community Service Society found the rezonings were largely in “Black, Latin, or Asian communities, and often surrounded by existing affordable housing.”
Clinton talked about the need for affordability across the city.
"I think we should do that everywhere," he said. "I know it's controversial and it's a big issue in New York, but we ought to share the future in a tightly packed, wonderful city with people at all income levels. We just should. I think it’s important."
The former president also said he thinks current President Joe Biden is doing a good job trying to get people vaccinated.
Clinton said he lost a lot of friends to COVID-19, including a mailman he grew up with who died just as the vaccines were starting to be distributed.
He said he thinks about figures showing more than 99 percent of the people who have died from the virus recently have been unvaccinated.
Clinton also said he believes more mask wearing, in public and inside, will be a part of our future because of the spread of the COVID-19 variant.
He also commented on Biden's infrastructure push.
"And one of the things that President Biden is right about is, even if you can’t pass the human resources part of his infrastructure program right now," Clinton said, "we’re going to need to train and employ more personal community health workers to create the kind of system that will enable us to respond to things like this, because it’s gonna be, you can’t stop it.''
Clinton thinks the pandemic will fuel rich art and wonderful literature, but he hopes with it will come a more mature country in dealing with challenges like this.
Clinton spoke with NY1 on the 20th anniversary of the Clinton Foundation moving its offices to Harlem.