Public Housing for the People

“Public housing was won by the US working class at its height of power. Let’s rebuild the power necessary to restore and redefine housing for working people."

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READ TIME - Abstract: 1 min | Full: 5 min

Platform Abstract: The NYC Housing Authority provides homes for close to 600,000 mostly low-income, Black and brown New Yorkers, making it the largest single provider of rental housing in the city. These permanently affordable, off-the-market units are a critical resource for our rapidly gentrifying city. However, federal, state and local politicians have neglected to properly fund NYCHA for decades, leading to a near $40 billion backlog of repairs. NYCHA residents report horrifying conditions in complexes across the city, including high rates of mold, asthma, lead paint, cockroaches and sewage failure. NYCHA residents are twice as likely to be in poor health than the average NYC resident. In response to these conditions, Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor De Blasio, with the support of the City Council, NYCHA leadership and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), have schemed to give away public land, privatize management and sell air rights — all with the supposed goal of raising funds to repair NYCHA properties. 


These plans, including Blueprint for Change, Infill and RAD/PACT, must be opposed as the disasters they are. Instead of giveaways to private developers and management companies — which lead to higher rates of evictions, rising rents and the permanent loss of public assets — Jonathan supports reinvestment in repairing and expanding NYCHA. He will fight to reallocate funds from the NYPD and the Department of Corrections to invest in NYCHA. He will advocate at the state and federal level for the Green New Deal for Public Housing, which would create hundreds of thousands of good-paying green jobs for low-income New Yorkers. Jonathan supports the full enforcement of public housing residents’ Section 9 right to organize within their buildings and will work to fix the issues with Section 3 funding being improperly funneled away from resident control.

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1. Fully fund NYCHA

For years, proponents of NYCHA privatization have tried to paint the city agency as inherently wasteful and inefficient. While these critiques have some validity, the truth is that almost all of NYCHA’s problems stem from decades of chronic underfunding by the city, state and federal government. The result is a ready-made justification for privatization schemes. Politicians ensure apartments are crumbling because it makes it easier to turn NYCHA residents into a source of profit for real estate owners and developers.  While privatization schemes like Infill provide a quick injection of cash, they are a disaster in the long run. We don’t need to dismantle NYCHA — we need to properly fund it. As an executive committee member of the Justice for All Coalition Jonathan has fought for NYCHA funding and to end institutional neglect.  We need victories at the federal, state, and municipal level, fights that are mostly against other democratic party members. Jonathan is ready and willing to take on this fight.

 

2. Keep public housing public

Despite its chronic underfunding and current state, NYCHA is one of New York’s most valuable public assets. We need to reinvest in NYCHA, not privatize it. Jonathan will always oppose the real estate developer-fueled schemes to privatize NYCHA like the Blueprint for Change, which is currently being debated in the New York State Senate. In this spirit, Jonathan supports the campaign being run by NYCHA tenants and tenant advocacy organizations around the city to stop the Blueprint for Change and remove Greg Russ as the chair of NYCHA. We strongly encourage you to sign this petition and call your representatives in Albany to ask them to oppose this bill. You can find your state legislator here.

Queensbridge is particularly at risk due to the ending of the Resident Council by NYCHA last year. Jonathan and residents are fighting back against the denial of Section 9 rights through this petition here.

 

3. House the homeless

Our homeless need to be fully housed in dignified and safe apartments, not criminalized and forced into often unsafe shelters. Jonathan believes in a “Housing First” model, which includes expediting and expanding the city’s current commitment to build Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) units with wrap-around services like healthcare, addiction counseling and job training. PSH units should be publicly owned and permanently off-the-market.

 

4. The Green New Deal for NYCHA

Jonathan fully supports the proposed federal Green New Deal for Public Housing, which would invest $48 billion over ten years to repair and decarbonize NYCHA while creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs. This investment would reduce costs for residents and NYCHA alike by converting all apartments to 100% renewable energy and employing cutting edge energy efficiency techniques. If fully implemented, this plan would cut 2.3 million tons of carbon emissions a year — the equivalent of getting more than 450,000 cars off the road. In addition, the dramatic reduction in air pollution, lead paint, mold and other toxic features of current NYCHA properties would greatly increase the health of residents, including by reducing asthma rates by 18-30%. It’s a plan to save NYCHA from privatization and align New York City with appropriate climate targets.

 

5. A NYCHA by residents, for residents

The various NYCHA privatization schemes pursued by the city government highlight a broader problem with how the Authority is run: NYCHA residents don’t have control over the decisions that impact their day-to-day living situations. Jonathan will always work to ensure that NYCHA complexes are democratically controlled by their residents. Jonathan supports the full enforcement of public housing residents’ Section 9 right to organize within their buildings and will work to fix the issues with Section 3 funding being improperly funneled away from resident control.

 

Section 9, which is the federal code for public housing, gives residents the right to both organize and participate in the management of their homes. It establishes the rights of residents to run and vote in elections for residents councils in their housing complexes. Beyond that, it lays the framework for Resident Management Corporations — which are multi-campus, democratically elected organizations that act as the managers of NYCHA complexes in a given area. These rights are guaranteed by Section 9 of the Housing Act of 1937, but decades of neglect of public housing has established layer after layer of bureaucracy, cutting residents out of decision-making processes. Jonathan will fight to make sure public housing remains in Section 9 so that NYCHA residents can claim their full democratic rights.