Council Member Vanessa L. Gibson proudly represents the 16th District of the Bronx, including the Claremont, Claremont Village, Concourse, Concourse Village, Highbridge, Mount Eden, Morrisania and Morris Heights communities and was first elected to this position on November 5, 2013. Council Member Gibson was re-elected to the City Council in November of 2017 and is currently serving in her second and final term.
A native New Yorker, Ms. Gibson has spent her career serving the people of the west Bronx. Beginning in January 2001, while a student at the University at Albany, Ms. Gibson joined the New York State Assembly Intern Program and was assigned to then-Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene. As an Intern, she worked on legislation for the Member, attended meetings and met with constituents and community groups on behalf of the office. Upon graduation, Ms. Gibson served as Legislative Aide then would rise to District Manager overseeing the Bronx office and was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the district office, supervising the staff and all administrative and constituent services. Ms. Gibson would serve as the District Manager for several years until Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene would resign from office in May 2009 after twenty-eight years in the Assembly. With community and family support, Ms. Gibson decided to run for the New York State Assembly and was elected to this position in a special election on June 2, 2009 to represent the residents and families of the 77th District in the Bronx.
Upon being elected to the New York State Assembly in 2009, Ms. Gibson undertook an ambitious agenda to improve the quality of life of her constituents in the 77th Assembly District and residents throughout Bronx County. She led efforts to support more education on lupus, championed efforts to support public education, access to affordable housing, higher education at SUNY, affordable and quality healthcare, senior services and youth services. Ms. Gibson would serve for two terms in the NYS Assembly and then decided to run for an open seat in the New York City Council in 2013, to replace the term limited Council Member Helen Diane Foster. Ms. Gibson was elected to the New York City Council in November 2013.
As a Council Member, Ms. Gibson has been a leader on education, affordable housing, criminal justice reform, public safety issues and an advocate for alternatives to incarceration, tenant protections, increased training for our police officers and school climate reforms. She has passed the Student Safety Act in 2014, which relates to reporting requirements on student arrests, summons and suspensions, in addition to the frequency of EMS calls by our public schools. She has championed legislation on mandating sexual health education in our public middle and high schools for youth and teenagers to learn about sexual healthcare. She has passed legislation to protect commercial businesses from landlord harassment known as the Commercial Tenant Harassment Bill, which expands the definition of harassment and raises civil penalties for landlords up to $50,000 for those found guilty by a court of engaging in landlord harassment. In 2017, she joined Council Member Mark Levine in passing the landmark Right to Counsel Legislation, which provides free legal representation for income-eligible tenants facing eviction in Housing Court. As a result of this important legislation, evictions have decreased by 41%, a reduction in cases filed in Housing Court by 15% and thousands of families saved from evictions. Ms. Gibson has also championed legislation related to food equity and policy by mandating the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy create a ten-year food strategy for the City of New York that identifies food policies, access to healthier options, using community gardens, urban agriculture and access to Health Bucks to address food deserts.
Ms. Gibson has led efforts to fund and support the first ever Bronx Children’s Museum which will open in late 2020 and is working with the Osborne Association to transform the former Fulton jail into an Economic Development and Re-Entry Center for reintegration and holistic services for formerly incarcerated men. In 2014, Ms. Gibson worked with Council Member Fernando Cabrera on a three-year Jerome Neighborhood Rezoning Plan that overwhelmingly passed the City Council and will create approximately 4,000 new units of affordable housing and invests $189M of capital infrastructure into Bronx Community Boards 4 and 5 including two brand new public schools, $60M in new parks and park renovations, $50M in DOT capital work, new NYPD Argus cameras along Jerome Avenue and discretionary funding for community groups to support small businesses along the Jerome corridor. Through a collaborative effort following the Jerome Neighborhood Rezoning, Ms. Gibson was pleased to learn the MTA will add an elevator to the 170th Street Subway Station on Jerome Avenue on the IRT No. 4 train in our community. Ms. Gibson is currently working with the Administration on the Jerome Public Health Task Force, the Southwest Bronx Housing Task Force and a Task Force on Responsible Contracting and Hiring, all created as a result of the Jerome Neighborhood Rezoning Plan.
During the 2014-2017 term, Ms. Gibson, was appointed by then-Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, to serve as the first person of color and first woman to chair the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety, which worked closely with the NYPD, the District Attorneys, Special Narcotics Prosecutor, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB). During the FY 2016 budget, Ms. Gibson supported the hiring of 1,300 police officers, new efforts to recruit police officers of color, a new Neighborhood Coordination Officer program, new Crisis Intervention Training for all police officers to help those New Yorkers with emotional needs and adding $21M in new funding to the historically under-funded offices of both the District Attorneys of the Bronx and Staten Island.
Ms. Gibson has led efforts with Council Members Jumaane Williams and Laurie Cumbo, along with the Administration, to create the first ever Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence, focused on the cure violence model and providing a holistic approach to gun violence in New York City. Based on the Gun Violence Task Force, the City Council worked with the Administration to expand the New York City Crisis Management System to 22 different catchment areas in all five boroughs to target at-risk youth with mental health, therapeutic services, employment opportunities, school-based programs and resources to prevent gun violence. Ms. Gibson led efforts to launch crisis mobile trauma units in each borough to respond to gun violence on the ground with access to trauma-informed care, healthcare professionals and social workers. She has also prioritized additional services for students in temporary housing, which led to the Department of Education’s $30M funding for additional bus routes for students, Bridging the Gap social workers in our public schools and collaborative efforts with shelter providers and capital upgrades to DHS-shelters.
On a local level in the district, Ms. Gibson has allocated millions of dollars in capital funding to many District 9 public schools for technology upgrades, renovations to auditoriums, libraries, science labs, gymnasiums, playgrounds and cafeterias. She has invested $10M to our NYCHA developments including security cameras, exterior LED lights, elevator replacements, playground and basketball renovations. She continues to support capital renovations at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx Community College, Concourse Village, the New York Botanical Garden, the Bronx Zoo, HOSTOS Community College, Lehman College and Orchard Beach.
During this term, Speaker Corey Johnson named Ms. Gibson, to chair a newly formed Subcommittee on Capital, which oversees the Administration’s ten-year Capital Plan and Commitment Plan and takes a closer review into Agencies Capital Plans and how we can improve the capital budget process and improve Agency efficiency. Ms. Gibson has the honor of being Deputy Leader and a Member of the Budget and Negotiating Team (BNT), along with serving as a Member of the following Committees: Finance, General Welfare, Land Use, Public Housing, Public Safety, and Standards and Ethics. Ms. Gibson is a member of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus and most recently in 2020, was elected as Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus along with Council Member Farah N. Louis.
Ms. Gibson is a life-long New Yorker, born and raised in New York City and educated in the City’s public school system. She is a graduate of the University at Albany (SUNY) with her Bachelor’s in Sociology and received her Masters of Public Administration in Business Analysis and Evaluation from Baruch College (CUNY). She is the second graduate of the MPA program at Baruch College to run for elected office in New York City behind former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. Ms. Gibson is a resident of Morris Heights and enjoys the backdrop of the Borough’s State Park, Roberto Clemente State Park in her community. Ms. Gibson is proud of the work done and investments made on behalf of our residents, families, and looks forward to building on more relationships with all stakeholders to further make investments in District 16. She is thankful for the opportunity to serve for such a time as this in elected office.