Council Member Richie Torres District 15
Councilmember Torres became active in politics at an early age, first as a fellow in the inaugural class of the Coro New York Exploring Leadership Program, and then as an intern in the offices of the Mayor and Attorney General. He went on to work as the Housing Director for Councilmember Jimmy Vacca. He was elected to the City Council in 2014 and became part of history when he nominated Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the first Latina to hold a citywide office.
Council Member Torres is a Deputy Leader of the City Council, making him the only Freshman Council Member to hold a leadership position. A rising star in City politics, Councilmember Torres has been profiled by New York Magazine, Newsweek, the Nation, NBC News, the Daily News, and City Limits, and is a widely quoted voice on issues ranging from affordable housing, civic engagement, disconnected youth, domestic violence, and conditions and standards in the workplace.
As Chair of the Council’s Committee on Public Housing; Councilmember Torres oversees the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). NYCHA is the largest provider of affordable housing in New York and the largest provider of public housing in the United States. Only a month into his Chairmanship, Councilmember Torres held the first ever committee hearing at a public housing development. His historic oversight hearing played an important role in securing the largest FEMA grant in NYC's history: $3 billion dollars for the repair and resiliency needs of NYCHA developments damaged by Superstorm Sandy. He also presided over the largest investment of City and State funds in NYCHA in over ten years, directing hundreds of millions of dollars towards vital repairs to the City’s public housing stock.
The youngest member of the City Council, Councilmember Torres is deeply committed to expanding youth civic engagement. He co-sponsored City Council resolution allowing high school students, 16 and 17-year olds, to serve on Community Boards, which represent the most local level of City Government. He secured funding from the City budget to create a Youth City Council, which will recruit 51 junior Council Members from high schools throughout NYC to experience first-hand the workings of the City Council. Councilmember Torres has brought civics education to several classrooms in the Bronx, by delivering lectures himself and by systematically recruiting college students to voluntarily do the same.
Council Member Torres is the first elected official to pioneer participatory budgeting in the East, Central, and West Bronx. Participatory budgeting is a process that allows local residents, including high school students, to directly vote on a how a million dollars in public funds should be spent in their neighborhood. Councilmember Torres is also the founder of the Young Men of Color (YMOC) caucus of the council, which elevates issues that disparately impact young men of color.
Councilmember Torres has introduced and enacted legislation to improve conditions in both housing market and the jobs market. He introduced the CLEAN Act, which would license and regulate industrial laundry operators that exploit low-wage workers and that clean fabrics without basic standards of health and safety. He also introduced the Housing Quality Act which imposes inspection fees on landlords who repeatedly fail to make repairs and expands enforcement against the worst buildings in NYC.
Apart from Chairing the Committee on Public Housing, Councilmember Torres serves on the General Welfare, Government Operations, Housing and Buildings, Land Use and Public Safety Committees, and is a Deputy Leader of the City Council.