Leaders of more than 150 New York City corporations and financial firms called on Mayor Bill de Blasio to pay more attention to a declining quality of life, as the city struggles to contain the Covid-19 pandemic that has ravaged its economy.
In a letter sent to the mayor Thursday, the chief executives of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Blackstone Group Inc. and other prominent companies acknowledged the city’s accomplishment in limiting the spread of the virus. But they said they were losing confidence in the city as a place that feels safe for people to live and work.
“Despite New York’s success in containing the coronavirus, unprecedented numbers of New Yorkers are unemployed, facing homelessness, or otherwise at risk,” the letter states. “There is widespread anxiety over public safety, cleanliness and other quality of life issues that are contributing to deteriorating conditions in commercial districts and neighborhoods across the five boroughs.”
The letter from the executives, organized by the Partnership for New York City, a civic association, was signed by 162 members, including Albert Bourla of Pfizer Inc., David Solomon of Goldman Sachs, Jeffrey H. Barker of the Bank of America, Stephen Schwarzman of Blackstone and developer Douglas Durst.
“There’s been a lot of pressure from many sources for employers to urge employees to come back to their offices and to come back to the city,” said Kathryn Wylde, the Partnership’s president. “And while increasingly it’s not a health issue, it’s an issue of enforcement -- whether it’s mask policies on mass transit, uncertainty about school opening, or aggressive panhandlers on the streets and in our train stations.”
Employers have cited a sense of disorder as the reason for keeping their offices shut down, much more than concern about the spread of disease, she said.
The mayor’s office said it welcomed the executives’ letter, and used it to repeat de Blasio’s call for more federal aid to cities suffering from revenue losses due to the economic shutdown forced on it in March by the virus.
“We’re grateful for the business community’s input, and we’ll continue partnering with them to rebuild a fairer, better city,” said mayoral press secretary Bill Neidhardt. “Let’s be clear: We want to restore these services and save jobs, and the most direct way to do that is with long term borrowing and a federal stimulus. We ask these leaders to join in this fight because the stakes couldn’t be higher.”
The executives called upon the mayor “to send a strong, consistent message that our employees, customers, clients and visitors will be coming back to a safe and healthy work environment. People will be slow to return unless their concerns about security and the livability of our communities are addressed quickly and with respect and fairness for our city’s diverse populations.”
The executives urged the mayor to “take immediate action” to restore services as a necessary precursor for solving the city’s longer term economic challenges. Some of the city services that have declined in recent months include trash pickups, park maintenance and the discouraging of aggressive panhandling, Wylde said in an interview.
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