Housing

Everyone deserves a home. Decades of developers running rampant in central Brooklyn have resulted in long-term residents being pushed out, unable to remain in the communities they built. Currently, more than 50% of New Yorkers spend ⅓ of their income on rent. On top of that, our public housing has decayed after decades of underfunding, and new ‘affordable’ housing stock remains out of reach for most working-class New Yorkers.

The effect of this is something I have witnessed personally. I grew up in Prospect Heights, and the explosion of evictions, deed theft, new developments, and high rents have all but destroyed the place I remember. I watched wealthy developers profit off of the community I lost. We cannot allow New York to become a playground for the rich and powerful. HIgh quality housing is a human right, and I will fight tooth and nail to enshrine that right for all New Yorkers.

As a renter in the district, I have spent years fighting for tenant protections. The influence of the landlord lobby and greedy developers are responsible for the housing crisis in New York State. That’s why I’m not taking any real estate donations. And if elected, I will work to keep people in their homes, and protect the historic communities that make Brooklyn what it is.

As a state senator, I will fight to:

  • Ensure every New Yorker has a safe, quality, and affordable home. I’ve proudly taken the #HomesGuarantee pledge, and am committed to using a variety of tools to provide a home for every New Yorker.
  • Strengthen tenants’ rights. The 2019 legislative session made progress on securing more stability and rights for tenants with the Housing Stability and Tenant Protection Act. However, there is still much left undone. As state senator I will advocate for and support:
    • Good Cause Eviction (S2892B), which will guarantee that tenants can only be evicted for specific reasons;
    • Eliminating Major Capital Improvement (MCI) rent increases (S3693), because landlords should not be able to increase rent for providing basic building upgrades;
    • Regulating building buyouts (S6680), so that tenants who live in rent-stabilized or rent-controlled buildings understand their rights as it pertains to buy-out offers from landlords;
    • Increasing lease options for rent-stabilized and rent-controlled tenants (S2891), to give tenants the right to renew their leases for longer terms;
    • Creating a right of first refusal in New York, which would allow the tenants who live in a building up for sale to have a fair opportunity to purchase the property.

Many of these measures would represent significant steps toward universal rent control, which would guarantee permanently affordable and quality housing. Protecting housing affordability discourages predatory real estate activity and helps scale back the ravages of gentrification.

  • Fully fund NYCHA and redirect public subsidies from for-profit to non-profit housing developers. The state and federal government have failed to fulfill their commitments to NYCHA residents for decades. Marcy Houses is owed $55 million for new heating systems alone. I support investing in NYCHA and new social housing by implementing a series of progressive taxes to increase revenue, including, but not limited to, a pied-a-terre tax and a multi-millionaires tax (S4511A). I’m committing to investing $3 billion annually in NYCHA and new social housing.
  • Repeal tax breaks for developers. Currently the state grants several tax breaks to developers, which drains local governments of funding that could be used to create permanently affordable housing. I will fight to repeal 421-a (S7238), a property tax exemption that allows developers to skirt property taxes in exchange for creating a small amount of affordable housing for a limited period of time. This tax exemption costs New York City $1.4 billion annually. I will also fight to end tax breaks for luxury property owners (S5267), who currently receive disproportionately large tax breaks. Finally, I will support a vacancy tax, which would penalize developers and landlords who seek higher profits by leaving properties empty. We should not be subsidizing wealthy developers, but should reclaim this revenue and reinvest it in NYCHA and other permanently affordable, socialized housing.
  • End predatory development practices to protect long-term residents and small homeowners. In the neighborhoods of Senate District 25, small homeowners, particularly Black and brown homeowners, are being harassed daily by real estate investors and solicitors to sell their property. As a result, small homes are often purchased by investors and immediately resold for substantial profits — a practice known as “flipping.” Homes are also being stolen through deed theft, where predatory developers use fraudulent practices to deceive small homeowners. To end these trends, I pledge to support:
    • The Flip Tax Bill (S3060E), to tax those who are flipping and disincentivize the practice;
    • Creating a Cease & Desist Zone in Senate District 25 and throughout Brooklyn, which would make it illegal for developers to solicit and harass small property owners;
    • Strengthening enforcement of and penalties for deed theft, in order to build on the anti-deed theft law passed in 2019.

I will fight to ensure that our small homes collectively remain within the hands of Black and brown owners and that the people who built our community have the right to stay there.

  • Increase support for democratically controlled housing on community land trusts. Community land trusts (CLTs) are nonprofit, community-based organizations designed to ensure that the community, not developers, control the land. Too many buildings are suffering from mismanagement that harms tenants. These buildings should be taken under control of the city or state and turned into community-based housing, such as resident-owned Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) cooperatives. Moreover, the City should be incentivized to place buildings into CLTs, and we should look for ways to subsidize the expansion and growth of CLTs and, in general, create more opportunities for tenants to collectively purchase and run their buildings.

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