Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the 31st ADA Sapolin Awards in Chelsea on Tuesday evening where he signed an executive order further strengthening the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities.
On July 26, 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law, and every year around the time of its anniversary, the Sapolin Awards are held to recognize organizations that strive for inclusion and wellness in aid of individuals with disabilities.
This year the event was hosted outdoors at the High Line on 10th Avenue and West 30th Street but before awards were distributed, de Blasio and Commissioner of the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities Victor Calise greeted attendees with opening remarks.
“We gather together in pride and enjoy to be together. And the continued fight to make New York City someplace for absolutely everyone. A lot of people here have contributed,” de Blasio said, acknowledging the work of Calise and many others in city government toward finding creative ways to push for inclusivity and ensuring that people with disabilities can live a better life in the Five Boroughs.
Empowerment includes equitable access to opportunities, and de Blasio believes that his administration has worked well with advocates over the years to provide that stability for the ADA community. The mayor especially boasted about the building and preservation of affordable housing, which he believes was able to achieve through his tenure in office for all New Yorkers.
“We can talk about how great this place is, how much we love it. But if you can’t afford to live here, doesn’t do a lot for you,” he said. “At the beginning of the administration we said we would build or preserve 200,000 apartments, 200,000, enough for almost 700,000 New Yorkers. And many, many people said it was impossible. … As of today, we have built or preserved 194,000 apartments, and we will have 200,000 by the time this year is done … And with a preference for New Yorkers with disabilities to make sure people can live in New York City.”
The victory lap received applause from dozens of onlookers at the gala event, which the mayor compounded by signing Executive Order 73 to ensure that even when he leaves office, the efforts made to protect the ADA community will remain in place for his successor.
“We got to codify this month as Disability Pride Month. We’ve got to make sure that from this point forward, whoever leads the office is known as commissioner, because that is a title of great respect and influence, Victor Calise,” de Blasio said.