Housing as a Right is More Critical Than Even

New York’s housing crisis is out of control. 

It’s time to stand up for middle- and low-income renters and homeowners across New York City. It is time for common-sense policies that preserve affordability and protect New Yorkers from rising rents in an age of low wages and job scarcity. I propose we put middle- and low-income communities on the path of stable and reliable home ownership.


As a small business owner, I, too, have my struggles with rising housing costs and lack of resources available. For the last 11 years, I have worked in real estate and have seen neighborhoods that were once affordable for the average New Yorker become financially out of reach overnight, and their current residents getting pushed out to the periphery. 

My experiences that I deal with on a regular basis are very personal to me. As a real estate broker, my focus is on helping residential tenants find a new home and small businesses find new commercial spaces to operate their business.

More than ever, I’m witnessing New Yorkers drowning in debt and unable to afford the rising price of the housing market in New York City. Many have left the city altogether, to move somewhere else. The inability for many New York residents to secure a safe and stable home in turn makes it impossible for them to have access to a stable job, a stable education and attain a decent quality of life, all of which come with serious psychological repercussions.

To add insult to injury, the homeless population has risen from 20,000 in the year 2000 to nearly 70,000 in 2020. Every night, men, women and children are forced to sleep on the streets, in the subway or in other public spaces due to the appalling conditions of New York City shelters.

Research shows that one in ten children in the New York City public school system experience homelessness and hunger at some point during the school year due to rising rents and stagnant wages.

SOLUTIONS

Step 1Rent stabilization will not do. 2.5 million New Yorkers are rent-stabilized tenants. Landlords are less likely to maintain these apartments because the lower rents have them operating at a cost deficit. It’s time to move away from depending on small landlords to provide affordable housing. The continuous wave of gentrification and new construction in our communities has to come at a deficit to New Yorkers at large.

Step 2 – New Development Projects. The current policies that allow 25% of new-development to go towards low-income housing do not reflect the realities of the wages of middle- and low-income New Yorkers, and they discriminate against tenants in other ways, such as the demand for a certain credit score.

I propose that all new development dedicate 25% to 30% to middle- and low-income housing with an opportunity to own through a co-op system. This also means that we have to consider the actual wages of middle- and low-income New Yorkers and properly reflect this in the price. With ownership in place, we can offer a better system that will protect all New Yorkers from the current rent-stabilized system continuously weakening from decades of landlord influence in Albany.

As Mayor, I plan to enact bold policies to confront the housing crisis head-on by creating a path to ownership for hard-working, middle- to low-income New Yorkers. Let’s move past affordable rent. Let’s get to affordable ownership. 

Step 3Tax Credits. Rezoning pushed by de Blasio’s administration should benefit of us all. Tenants should not be at the mercy of landlords; landlords should be at the mercy of tenants. Landlords own their properties at a risk, and therefore should be allowed to own at a profit, not a deficit. 

We need to consider landlords’ massive overheads—taxes, insurance, heating, hot water, gas, sewage, the threat of lawsuits and so on. We need common-sense low-tax credit for building owners that will allow them to pass on these credits to their residential and commercial tenants. This is a win-win for everyone.

Step 4Tenant and Landlord Rent Relief. The COVID crisis has destroyed the economy in ways that we could never imagine. The ability for so many of us to put food on the table, afford housing and other basic needs is no longer a reality. The housing and eviction crisis for millions can no longer go mismanaged. It has to be resolved through proper mediation between banks, landlords and tenants.

We are all in this together. We must all look after each other. I propose a rent-relief policy that will pay for 60% of rents owed by all tenants with the exchange of a 40% forgiveness tax credit to all landlords. This means that the banks which have received trillions of dollars in bailouts by the federal government will have to take a 40% loss on their investments. 

Step 5Abolish the Private Equity Model from the Housing System. Private-equity firms are predatory in their aggressive pursuit, devastating struggling landlords. Their ability to purchase large quantities of properties, especially at a time of crisis, is dangerous to the public at large. As Mayor, it will be my pleasure to make these predatory behaviors illegal.

We need to look at different ways our housing market preys on vulnerable landlords and tenants in order to create common-sense policies and truly protect all New Yorkers. Financial crises create the biggest opportunities for predatory investors to purchase properties from desperate landlords at the expense of us all. 

Step 6 Rezoning for the Benefit of Whom? We must put the needs of the majority over the profit of the minority. My fight is to end massive rezoning at the expense of middle- and lower-income New Yorkers. We are all being pushed out to the periphery.

Leaders cannot continue down this path; there is mass community opposition. The people have spoken, and unless developers can create solutions that protect all New Yorkers, I cannot in good conscience promote the rezoning of our communities. 

We have to reach a consensus. This means the majority’s voice not only gets to be heard but gets the final say. There must be a win-win for all, or no deal. I’m very much in favor of capital improvements, but this has to be done at the benefit of the majority, not just the few.  

Step 7Transparency. For many low-income New Yorkers, public, affordable housing is the only option. More than half a million New Yorkers rely on these resources for housing protection, and yet thousands of public housing residents in NYCHA housing regularly go without heat and hot water. 

NYCHA is a municipal agency with an annual budget of $3.5 billion dollars. For decades, NYCHA housing has been grossly mismanaged, causing harm to hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, including children, as per the New York City Comptroller audits. 

The agency manages 180,000 apartments with an estimated 400,000 residents on record, but unofficially, the resident number is estimated at above 600,000 residents. 

My platform focuses on transparency. My motto is “Show me the Money.” 3.5 billion dollars is not chump change! Many of us find the number of zeros in that amount remarkable, and yet NYCHA can easily be rated as one of the worst landlords is New York City.

I will create a clear audit of NYCHA in an effort to provide full transparency and diminish the deficit. NYCHA residents deserve improvements in the services administered, and they most certainly deserve humane living conditions. 

Step 8 – Quality of Public Housing. I believe the lack of care for vulnerable New Yorkers in the public housing system is criminal. We need to remember that these are human beings, and these conditions are a representation of a lack of justice in our local government. I will put in place policies that mandate thorough inspections of all public-housing buildings by independent agencies. 

As far as I’m concerned, public-housing agencies cannot police themselves. Public-housing residents deserve full disclosures of lead exposure, lead poisoning, and the assurance that every man, woman and child will not go without heat, hot water and clean, drinking water. According to reports, as many as 9,000 children living in NYCHA housing have been affected by lead poisoning.

And child asthma is at a higher rate than normal amongst NYCHA-housing residents. These are both due to the failures of NYCHA personnel to properly inspect housing. There are recorded health disparities between NYCHA residents and the general public, showing the lack of proper health conditions of these vulnerable communities.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Every human being deserves safe housing no matter what income bracket they belong to. New Yorkers deserve humane solutions. We have to reimagine public housing that promotes the health, safety and well-being of the community. The current system is corrupt and in desperate need of major oversight. The public deserves full disclosure from agencies like NYCHA and HPD. I propose we flip the system on its head and find where the bodies are buried.