Tenant Activists Accuse Mayor of Fostering High-Cost Housing


New York City housing advocates on Thursday blamed Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policies for what they termed a wave of high-priced housing and rezoning plans in low-income neighborhoods across the city, driving less affluent residents out.

At least 30 advocates – members of New York Communities for Change (NYCC) and New York City Community Alliance for Workers Justice, one of the city’s largest tenant advocacy groups, chanted “Housing is a right! Fight! Fight! Fight!” on the steps of City Hall as they urged the mayor to boost affordable housing after his win in Tuesday’s primary.

About 15,000 of nearly 77,651 affordable housing units in the city are targeted to families earning above $68,000 a year compared to only 11,000 units for a household of three making below $25,000 a year, according to a fall report by NYCC.

‘The [housing] units built under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s housing plan are geared toward middle-income and moderate-income people,” said Celia Weaver, a research policy director at NYCC. “We are calling on the mayor in the second term to shift the units being produced to the lower-income levels.”

NYCC’s Real Affordability for All campaign, demanded the mayor give homeless New Yorker’s a pipeline out of the shelter by improving rental assistance programs, partnering with non-profit affordable housing developers as well as creating tools to prevent tenant harassment and displacement.

Over a 10-year span, the Mayor’s Office for Housing plans to create or preserve 200,000 affordable apartments, according to a press release by the Mayor’s Office.

The Mayor’s Office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

George Finley, an activist at NYCC said that residents are being displaced by private developers.

“They are bulldozing and bullying their way into taking over our land and building things on it that we don’t need,” said Finley, 78, of Canarsie, Brooklyn “They trespass on community property without permission from people in the community.”

Rachel Rivera, 38, of East New York said her landlord is forcing her out of her 1-bedroom rent stabilized apartment by neglecting to exterminate the rats and roaches infesting her home.

“The [landlord] is trying to get it un-stabilized so he can make it market rate,” said Rivera, who uses a hot plate to feed six children, including her three-year-old toddler because she said her landlord neglects to repair a broken stove. “He said he was going to call immigration on me.”

“Call all you want,” Rivera added. “I’m a citizen.”

Despite several court cases against the landlord, she said he continues to bypass the repairs.

 “I’m a fighter [and] I’m a loud mouth,” Rivera said. “I’m not going to just sit there and let him do this. I’m going to fight back.”

Since 2014 the Real Affordability for All campaign has advocated for low-income families who are being priced out of their neighborhoods.

Photo by Tatyana Bellamy-Walker

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