NEW YORK—Council member Margaret Chin has been leading District 1 since 2010, which includes the communities in Lower Manhattan.
What was your biggest achievement in 2013?
The biggest accomplishment for Council member Chin was the renewal of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. The project finally got approval from the city.
“Those lands have been sitting there, empty, for over 45 years, it’s parking lots,” Chin said.
Families were moved out of the area because there were big development plans, but the plans never came through. Although it was hard for her constituents to agree on what the land should be used for, they came to a consensus last year. They also agreed on a site dedicated to a school, with some space for small businesses.
“That’s something the community has been looking forward to for many years,” Chin said.
What will you be focusing on this year?
Chin was just given title as Chair of the Aging Committee. She will work with senior citizen advocates, and make sure that the seniors can age comfortably in the areas they’ve always lived in, without worrying about eviction or high rents. She will also support and address the Meals on Wheels program, transportation, and pedestrian safety.
What are some of the issues your constituents are concerned about?
In her district, the number one issue is lack of affordable housing. Just recently a family was evicted from a building in her district that was slapped with numerous violations of city regulations.
“People are living in very unsafe conditions, cubicles,” Chin said.
The city wasn’t able to help families relocate to a shelter while the landlord took care of the building, which caused problems in and of itself. Now she’s looking at how to create more affordable housing with proper living conditions.
In the Lower West Side, there’s a dire need for more school seats. Children are on waiting lists to go to kindergarten. This past year, the Department of Education (DOE) granted lower Manhattan with 1,000 additional seats in a school that will open in 2015, but Chin wants to fight for more.
“The most immediate situation is to find the space to build another school,” Chin said.
If you had a coat of arms, what would it be, and why?
“The one thing I’ve learned is no matter how much outreach we do, there will always be people who are not happy,” she said. “We have to look at how best to really serve the community,” Chin said.
Although Chin said there are those who support her, there are those who will always challenge her ideas.
“I just can’t make everybody happy,” she said.
The challenge is to come together and decide on things that are beneficial to the whole community. Chin said that her long record of community service proves that she’s trying to do what is best for the community, but sometimes she needs to shield herself from all the negativity.
“A shining bright light, that represents positive energy,” she said. The light would illuminate the good.
“People need light to get out of darkness, and the energy to support,” she said.
Her coat of arms would depict a sunrise, and bright energy.
Epoch Times is interviewing members of the 2014 New York City Council to find out what their biggest achievements were last year and what they hope to accomplish in this one. For a list of all council member articles in this project, click here.