Eric Adams says he wants to make people uncomfortable. And, so far, he seems to be succeeding.
"I believe we are going to have some painful conversations in this city," Adams said during a speech at the Association for a Better New York breakfast on Wednesday.
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The Brooklyn Borough President and likely 2021 mayoral candidate, addressed the business friendly crowd days after his comments ignited a heated debate about gentrification and the city's affordability crisis.
Adams chalked it up to a slip of the tongue, but mostly stood by his comments.
"When you are on the campaign trail you experience political gaffes," Adams said, when asked about comments he made earlier this week suggesting some New Yorkers should go back to where they came from.
In the meantime, his would-be competitors are on the attack.
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson acknowledged affordability in the city has reached crisis levels, but was critical of Adam's comments.
"The affordability crisis is one where people are feeling like their wages have remained stagnant but prices have gone up, that's a real thing—but there is a way to talk about it that doesn't seek to divide people," Johnson said.
City Comptroller Scott Stringer was also critical.
"A city that fails to bring new people to the place will die,” Stringer said. "I want people to come forth with a plan, the housing policies today are keeping people from coming here and are forcing longtime residents into homeless shelters or out of the city."
The comments have struck a chord, showing how gentrification and the affordability crisis could be a lightning rod in the next race for mayor.
Meanwhile, opponents have been quick to point out Adams has taken thousands of dollars in donations from real estate interests—one of the primary drivers of gentrification and rent hikes. He's also raked in thousands of dollars from donors who aren’t New Yorkers.
According to Campaign Finance Board data, Adams collected over $500,000 from people outside New York City for the 2021 election cycle.
Adams dismissed the finding.
"If you were to follow the dollars in all of these campaigns, even the ones that consider themselves holier than thou, see where their donations come from,” Adams said. “This is the season where people are gonna find out how to go at you and I've been ready for this.”