HOUSING: A HUMAN RIGHT

Like most neighborhood renters, Emily spends a lot of time at the laundromat.
  • New York Homes Guarantee

  • Stop incentivizing luxury development

  • Aggressive vacancy and pied-à-terre taxes

  • Pass the “good cause” eviction law

  • Enforce and expand tenant protections

  • Invest in NYCHA

Over the past two years, grassroots organizing swept the IDC into the dustbin of history and forced a historic expansion of tenant protections in our city. But even with some of the most pro-renter laws in the country, we’re still mired in a crisis of affordability. Over the past decade, rents increased twice as fast as wages. Almost half of NYC households are now rent burdened, with many spending more than half their paycheck on rent. Nearly 80,000 New Yorkers are homeless. 

For years, we’ve been effectively gaslit by our leaders: to get more affordable housing, they say, we need to build more luxury towers. We’ll carve out some “affordable” units. Maybe it’ll trickle down. 

It hasn’t. Instead, hundreds of thousands of apartments sit vacant, accruing wealth for distant investors or occasionally visited as “pied-à-terres.” Gentrification continues its rampage across wide swaths of the city. Tenants are harassed and hounded out of their homes, while small business storefronts go vacant. 

After the 2005 rezoning, North Brooklyn became the test case for this strategy. The median price for a home in Williamsburg is now over $1 million. In Greenpoint, it’s $1.5 million. Rent stabilized and rent controlled units are hanging on for dear life. 

We need a radically different approach. Some of these reforms can happen at the state level. Others need to come from the city or the federal government. All require powerful and persistent grassroots movements. Here’s what I’ll fight for.

No more subsidies for luxury development. Incentivize only true affordability. 

  • Reform the 421-A tax exemption to subsidize only deeply affordable housing and require prevailing wage standards.
  • Developers who want to build on state-owned land must commit to 100% affordable housing.
  • Make available state-backed low interest loans for repairs and improvements conditional on opting into rent stabilization. 

Pass Vacancy, Luxury and Pied-à-Terre Taxes.

  • No more warehousing apartments or land, waiting for a better return while New Yorkers face displacement. Homes are for people, not a commodity or a vehicle for money laundering. We need aggressive and permanent taxes on privately-owned vacant lands and apartments. 
  • Institute an annual tax on homes worth over $5 million that don’t serve as the buyer’s primary residence.
  • Fine landlords who warehouse commercial properties for more than 6 months.

Enforce and Expand the Tenant Protection Act of 2019.

  • Secure funding for unprecedented grassroots education campaign about new tenant protections and how to fight landlords who violate the law.
  • Pass a “Good Cause” Eviction measure to prevent no-fault evictions and require landlords to justify rent increases above 1.5% of the consumer price index.
  • Impose stiff fines for landlords who ignore or subvert tenant protections.
  • Explore the re-institution of commercial rent control to protect small businesses.
  • Fully fund DHCR’s enforcement units and provide further funding for technological upgrades conditional on greater transparency.

Invest in NYCHA.

  • The state needs to stop pretending NYCHA is just the city’s problem. Public housing is a lifeline for working class New Yorkers but for too long it’s been ignored or degraded, leading to serious health concerns and neoliberal funding schemes. 
  • Provide $3 billion in state funding for urgently needed NYCHA repairs.
  • Explore state funding for building new public housing across New York State.

End homelessness. 

  • Support a New York Homes Guarantee.
  • Commit significant new funding for permanent and supportive housing and expanded social services.
  • We support Housing Justice for All’s call to set aside 15 percent of new affordable housing construction for people without homes until every New Yorker is housed.

Democratize development and planning

  • The Amazon HQ2 debacle is just the most glaring example of “economic development” being conducted without any input or oversight by local residents, with huge giveaways to major corporations.
  • State and local governments in New York spend roughly $8.6 billion annually in the name of economic development. What are we getting in return?
  • Reform the Empire State Development Corporation and the Department of Economic Development into a single, unified, and transparent economic development budget with significant public input and robust oversight.
  • Institute a community planning process for any vacant state-owned land.