Ritchie Torres represents America’s poorest congressional district. He’s on a mission to save public housing.

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Ritchie Torres already made history in 2013, when he became the youngest member of the New York City Council at 25. In 2021 he did it again becoming the first openly gay Afro-Latino person elected to Congress. Before getting here, he made waves demanding to be allowed in both the Congressional Black and Hispanic caucuses, writing an op-ed saying, “You have to pick a side, so to speak. You can be either Black or Latino, but never both. In real life, however, I am both.”

He won that battle and has quite a few more he plans to tackle while in Congress. At top of mind is child poverty, including a permanent expansion of the child tax credit. Torres grew up with a single mom in public housing (across the street from a Trump golf course) and is always thinking of that experience while representing the poorest district in Congress.

“And I remember wondering to myself at the time, what does it say about our society that we’re willing to invest more in a golf course than in the homes of Black and brown Americans?” Torres said.

One really interesting point of the conversation is his thoughts on defunding the police. While in the City Council, Torres called a proposal to cut the NYPD by 50 percent “arbitrary and irresponsible.”

“Almost none of my constituents want to defund policing by 50 percent. You would never know that listening to the intelligentsia, but that it’s absurd,” Torres said. “We want better policing. We don’t want a total defunding of police.”

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