We must make New York City an easier and more affordable place to live - both as a renter and as a homeowner. To thrive in NYC, city dwellers must have a safe place to call home. My pledge as Public Advocate is to fight for jobs and justice for all New Yorkers. And we can’t have jobs or justice without adequate, affordable, and stable housing opportunities.
As an Assemblyman, I helped win $250 million in additional funding for the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). 21% of my constituents reside in public housing. So when Clayton Hemingway’s murderers couldn’t be identified because the security cameras at Linden Houses were not functional, I personally testified to Manhattan’s Federal Judge William Pauley calling on the courts to fix the troubled NYCHA system.
Gentrification is sweeping across the South Bronx, changing the very fabric of our community. I am deeply committed to protecting my neighborhoods and constituents, ensuring that they are not displaced in the process. I supported the recent federal court decision that rejected the city’s proposed settlement of $2.2 billion for NYCHA because it did not go nearly far enough to cover desperately needed repairs and provide greater transparency across public housing.
As Public Advocate, I will:
Protect Tenants from Bad Landlords:
City housing agencies currently enforce reactive policies, which are exploited by predatory landlords. This resulted in widespread rent fraud, the illegal deregulation of rent-stabilized apartments, and a backlog of nearly two million housing code violations across NYC. As Public Advocate, I will create a protective, city-wide enforcement system that actively goes after these landlords to build on the efforts of Public Advocate James’ landlord watch list, and efforts of nonprofit organizations such as Housing Rights Initiative. I will also prevent landlords from exploiting the J-51 tax break program and will fight to prevent these exemptions from going to landlords who endanger and abuse their tenants. We must make it harder for bad landlords to keep up their immoral practices and empower tenants rights.
Protect Against Gentrification:
Homeownership serves as a powerful protector against displacement and gentrification, as it provides families with stable housing costs and security. But racial disparities in lending still exist, forcing people of color into subprime loans or other forms of predatory practices. Low-income homeowners also fall prey to speculators and bad-faith developers.
As Public Advocate, I will implement “cease and desist” zones, which would allow residents in neighborhoods to opt-in to a “do not solicit registry,” so homeowners gain protection from solicitation if they choose. I will support implementing a 15% flip tax to prevent homes from being bought and resold within one year, and a 10% tax on properties bought and resold between one and two years in order to deter speculators. I will also promote community land trusts to ensure permanently affordable homeownership and expand down payment assistance and other resources for homebuyers. With regard to Third Party Transfers, I will collect data on transfers to understand the program’s impact and will hold City Council Members accountable for transfers within their district, and make sure that they are acting in the best interest of the people.
Closely Monitor the City’s RAD Program:
The expansion of the Permanent Affordability Commitment Pact will allow non-profits or private developers to take over the maintenance and operation of public housing buildings through a program called RAD. As Public Advocate, I will make sure that people living in Section 8 housing don’t see rent increases, prevent the displacement of residents, and will make sure that NYCHA employees don’t lose their jobs. I will also call for strict monitoring of developers to ensure that they are upholding tenants’ rights.
Demand Accountability, Transparency, and Progress Across New York City’s Public Housing Authority:
For too long NYCHA has operated without proper oversight or accountability. As Public Advocate, I will monitor and fight any efforts that might privatize public housing, endangering affordable housing for NYCHA residents. I will also fight for greater transparency of NYCHA work orders, work progress, and work completion data so that we can all celebrate improvement and hold NYCHA accountable where residents are waiting too long for repairs.
Enforce and Strengthen Rent Stabilization Laws:
More than 50% of New Yorkers are rent burdened and spend more than 30% of their monthly income on housing. (As a general rule, you want to spend no more than 30 percent of your monthly gross income on housing. If you're a renter, that 30 percent includes utilities, and if you're an owner, it includes other home-ownership costs like mortgage interest, property taxes and maintenance.) The elimination of rent-stabilized units is particularly harmful for our City’s senior citizens, who should have the right to age in place. As Public Advocate, I will work to expand the number of senior citizens enrolled in the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption program, SCRIE, which freezes rent for senior New Yorkers who earn less than $50,000 and are paying more than a third of their income in units that are rent-controlled or stabilized. I will also work to expand the enrollment eligibility from the current household income threshold to $45,800.