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Affordable Housing for All

NYCHA residents are living in slum conditions, homelessness is increasing at an alarming rate, especially among children, and rents are skyrocketing to the point that no working family can afford ‘affordable housing.’  Our housing crisis falls disproportionately on women and children with little hope of finding the stability they need for any chance of upward mobility.

Long-term housing:

The city’s affordable housing stock should include homes that meet standards for deep affordability (below 30% of AMI) in addition to homes that are affordable for the lower middle class (below 80% of AMI). Mixed-income development, like the Mitchell-Lama model, should be encouraged as it is better for creating lasting communities and financial viability.

Developers often make commitments when seeking approval to provide a certain amount of affordable housing, but sometimes delay actually building those units. The city needs to do a better job of monitoring and enforcing these commitments to ensure that new housing stock appropriately incorporates the affordable housing the city desperately needs.

Women and Children First:

Women and children living in shelters should be given preference to be placed in permanent housing, for instance, when new affordable housing lotteries take place.

To help children create much-needed routine stability in their lives, the city should appoint ‘Children’s Advocates’ to help homeless and low-income families navigate the school system and other services that will help children feel safe and secure.

Reduce Tenant Harassment:

There is an embarrassing, persistent pattern in this city of landlords harassing low-income residents, working families and seniors on fixed incomes through illegal construction in an attempt to drive them from their homes. We must protect tenants’ rights and hold predatory landlords accountable, which requires stronger enforcement mechanisms and a much more robust and aggressive ability to punish bad landlords, who are often repeat offenders.

As Public Advocate I will investigate the Department of Buildings’ and HPD’s failure to protect tenants in regards to construction harassment.

Developer Community Investments:

Major developers should be required to contribute far more to infrastructure in the neighborhoods where they build. Investments in areas such as street repairs, MTA infrastructure, schools, parks, etc. should be discussed and prioritized with local community officials.

Additionally, with the local community’s support, the city should work with non-profit developers and community land trusts to develop permanent, affordable housing on city-owned vacant land. As Public Advocate, I will continue to find opportunities for the New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS) to make pension fund investments in affordable housing to produce a win-win solution for our retirees on fixed incomes and our city.

As Public Advocate I would also push the city to change zoning rules to close loopholes and restrict zoning lot mergers to prevent overdevelopment in our communities.

Tenant’s Rights:

Many New Yorkers rely on alternative sources of income - such as LINC vouchers, Supplemental Security Income, Advantage program vouchers, and others - to pay rent, and it is illegal for landlords to discriminate on the basis of income. However, many landlords do discriminate. I will work with housing advocates and legal services to bring more attention to this issue, and support litigation to ensure the law is being honored.

In addition, the right to counsel for tenants was a major win for New Yorkers, we must ensure that the roll-out is done effectively. As Public Advocate I will monitor how well the City is responding to tenant reform laws.

Monitor NYCHA:

Conditions in NYCHA are unacceptable and we must seek solutions that will work for the residents. As a litigator, I will hold NYCHA management accountable through the Public Advocate’s powers to request agency records to demand access to information about management and how tenant complaints are handled. I will not hesitate to sue NYCHA and the de Blasio administration if Public Advocate requests are not responded to in a timely manner.

In addition, given my background in philanthropy, I will also consult with pro-bono efficiency experts on how to resolve NYCHA residents’ safety and livability problems faster, and hold NYCHA leadership accountable to adopt reforms. I will also hold monthly NYCHA Town Halls to ensure that all residents feel they have a forum in which to express their issues with NYCHA management.