Housing Justice

Affordable Housing in District 35

 

I recognize that housing is a human right. I believe in my heart that every New Yorker should have a safe place to sleep each night. The richest city in the world must do more to address not only an acute homelessness crisis but also its dearth of affordable housing. But for us to make housing more affordable for the working class, we must come together as neighbors to curb the speculative excess of developers and financiers who see Brooklyn’s housing stock as nothing more a stock investment for Wall Street. Because I believe developers play so great a role in undermining our supply of affordable housing, I stand apart from my opponents in this race in my unwillingness to accept developer donations and to organize in resistance to their influence on city politics. 

The Bedford Union Armory


I flatly reject the conversion of the Bedford Union Armory into luxury housing. Our district needs 100% Affordable Housing at this site. Rather than effectively give developers the million-dollar gift of the land upon which it sits, I propose that it be converted into a Community Land Trust—land held in common, managed by the community to fulfill the needs of the community and never for private profit.

 

 

Subsidized Housing for those making $38,500/year

Rather than give developers tax breaks to build luxury housing with a handful of “affordable” units set aside for the rest of us, city council needs to address the affordable housing shortage crisis directly, without somehow making billionaires even richer in the process. No neighborhood in New York is asking for another luxury apartment. But I know every neighborhood in my district is need rental housing working parents can afford. Rather than watch our tax dollars go towards underwriting still more luxury loft living, I believe that such funding must go towards the rental subsidies for families earning less than $38,500 a year.  

 

Prioritize Nonprofit Housing Development

I believe that where permits and bids are concerned, city council members should lean heavily towards nonrpofit developers who build with the public interest in mind and away from for-profit builders who build only for their bottom line.

 

Curb rents & homelessness

Citywide, the rent is too damn high, and it’s driving our city to record levels of homelessness.

 

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Here are some ways that I believe we can weaponize policy to fight gentrification and finance the development of more affordable housing:

Introduce Anti-Gentrification Taxes:

  • Flipping Tax

    • Endorsed by the late, great city supervisor Harvey Milk in San Francisco, an anti-speculation tax would impose a surtax on speculators who sell a property for profit within one to five years of acquiring it (also known as “flipping.”) Housing advocates in San Francisco this year proposed a 24% surtax for units sold within one year and 14% within five years of acquisition.

  • Vacancy Tax

    • New York City has more than 300,000 units sitting vacant. That's about 6 units for every homeless person in New York suffering for want of shelter. Recently, Paris addresses their vacancy problem by imposing a surtax on empty units, at a staggering 60% of the fair market rental price. This means that owners retain the right to keep their units empty but doing so means paying a considerably higher property tax than owners who either occupy or rent out their housing. Discouraging vacancy and speculation is one way we can help nurture a stronger and more affordable rental market in New York City.

  • Ban Broker’s Fees for Tenants

    • I believe the costs of finding tenants boils be born by the property owner.


Long Term Proposals:

  • Direct public development funding exclusively towards non-profit housing developers in the 35th District.

  • Place all publically owned land within the 35th district under community control.

    • In this district, our city sold 15 Lafayette Avenue to Rose Associates for $1. Rose Associates is one of the largest private developers in the city, earning $29 million in profits every year. Millionaires don’t need handouts. We need community-led development, and if land can be sold to private developers for $1, it can be transformed into Community Land Trusts for the same price.

  • Dispense with the $2,700 cap on rent stabilized apartments.

    • Require rent stabilized units to remain in the system. We cannot allow poorer tenants to be driven out of their homes for profit.

  • Require public disclosure of developers' financials:

    • 100% transparency

    • Promise of future audits

 

NYC Home Rule:

Working with Albany: We desperately need home rule in NYC. Too many policy decisions regarding NYC housing are made at the state level in Albany. The state Senate, run by the Republican-IDC coalition, accepts millions in housing lobbyist money and maintains pro-developer policies like the 421-A tax break and MCI Loophole. New York City residents should control our homes. As Councilmember, I will support any lawmaker in Albany willing to reignite the fight to repeal the Urstadt law.