Mayoral hopeful Maya Wiley made a pointed appeal to women of color Friday with a proposal to pay caregivers $5,000 a year with money from the NYPD’s budget.
Her plan would accomplish two policy and political goals at once — reducing the fiscal footprint of the police department and the city’s Department of Correction, while also providing much-needed relief to caregivers struggling to make ends meet, while tending to children and elderly family members.
Wiley made her policy pitch Friday morning at a virtual meeting of the Association for a Better New York, matching the content of her platform plank with feminist-inflected rhetoric along the way.
“I don’t have all the answers ‘cause I never have. And I’m never going to be the mayor who tells you I do. Isn’t that refreshing? It’s called being a woman,” she told an audience of about 100. “Because this is what we do. We confront the actual questions with honesty and integrity. We have principles and then we call each other to the table.”
To pay for her plan, Wiley would divert cash away from police and prison cadet classes, reducing their respective headcounts by 2,250 and 750 officers and freeing up $300 million.
The plan would also rely on funding from unspent federal and state block grants, which combined with money diverted from cadet classes, would go to paying 100,000 high-need families $5,000 annually to cover expenses such as babysitting costs or a family member foregoing employment to care for a loved one. Some of that money would also go toward paying for the creation of Community Care Centers, which would provide free childcare and eldercare in each of the five boroughs.
According to city statistics, 88% of the paid care workers in the Big Apple are women of color, with 77% of unpaid caregivers falling into the same demographic.
Wiley pointed out that women have suffered disproportionate pain as a result of the pandemic and the economic devastation it created, noting that in December 140,000 women in the U.S. lost their jobs.
“It is women who lost more than a decade of the gains we made in this labor market. It was women who had to often quit their jobs in order to provide that care for their families, families then losing a paycheck and trying to figure out how to make ends meet,” she said. “And it was women who were losing those jobs because of childcare being too expensive, even before COVID.”
Wiley, who served as a legal counsel to Mayor de Blasio and as chairwoman of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, is among the top five candidates in a recent poll on the June 22 Democratic primary. Of those five — which also includes Andrew Yang, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Comptroller Scott Stringer and former HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan — Wiley is the only female.
Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch was quick to attack Wiley and her plan, calling her “yet another ideologue peddling the false choice between caring for our communities and keeping them safe.”
“Wiley’s ‘Defund The Police’ allies have already taken 3,000 cops off our streets,” he said. “Declining public safety and rising violence have disproportionately impacted the high-need families she claims to want to help.”
Wiley, who also worked as an MSNBC commentator before launching her mayoral run, addressed the broader issue of cutting police funding Friday morning, saying she intends to find savings through the closure of Rikers Island and will “capture some of the fat in the NYPD budget that we need to reinvest in exactly what keeps our residents safe and secure and well fed.”
“Because we know these investments are what public safety is and means,” she said.