As a former housing advocate, creating quality, affordable housing for all New Yorkers has always been a top priority for Chris. She has worked hard to ensure that middle class and low-income families have a place to live and that landlords are held accountable for their actions.
As Speaker, Chris:
- Passed the Safe Housing Act, which gives the City the power to make repairs at hundreds of its worst buildings and then bill landlords for the work. To date, more than 5,000 apartments in over 400 buildings have been renovated.
- Created thousands of units of affordable housing through numerous rezoning agreements and changes to the 421-A program.
- Passed the Tenant Protection Act, for the first time giving tenants power to sue landlords for a pattern of harassment.
- Created the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, which has already provided assistance to 3,300 homeowners against predatory lending and assistance to families facing foreclosure.
- Successfully sued the City to stop a policy that would have left many homeless New Yorkers on the street by requiring them to prove they had no other housing options before being admitted to a shelter.
- Saved Section 8 vouchers for 2,500 families on the NYCHA waiting list and protected funding for another 4,000 at risk of losing them.
- Prohibited landlords from discriminating against tenants paying their rent with any lawful source of income, such as Section 8 vouchers.
- Created the Housing Asset Renewal Program, which has already converted 150 units in stalled or vacant buildings into middle class affordable housing.
- Helped create an early warning system for buildings in danger of exiting affordable housing programs, so that advocates and elected officials can take action to preserve affordability.
- Passed the Asthma Free Housing Act, giving the City the power to make repairs in buildings with major code violations that act as asthma triggers, such as mold and vermin.
- Launched a Task Force on Financially Distressed Rental Properties to help protect the rights of tenants in multifamily buildings facing foreclosure.
- Provided funding to rehabilitate hundreds of units of distressed HUD housing.
As Mayor, Chris plans to:
Build 40,000 new middle income affordable apartments over the next ten years. New York City was built by generations of middle class families, and those working to pull themselves up into the middle class. But many New Yorkers are finding themselves priced out of the communities they helped to make great. Chris’ plan would use a combination of new financing and savings within the city's capital budget to build 4,000 new middle-income units every year - quadruple the current rate of construction, and by far the largest middle class housing program since Mitchell-Lama. Chris will also maintain the current rate of 4,000 new units of lower income housing being produced every year.
Make new housing we construct permanently affordable. Currently the affordability requirements for most subsidized apartments expire after 20 or 30 years, which means residents may be priced out of their homes and the middle class gets priced out of entire neighborhoods. Chris will work with her colleagues in Albany to pass a Permanent Affordability Act giving us a new financing tool that will allow us to keep units affordable indefinitely. For the first time ever, we’ll be able to create permanent affordability for thousands of new units that will be built under Chris’ middle class housing construction plan. We can also apply this tool to existing units, preserving affordable housing that might have been lost.
Turn existing market-rate housing into affordable units. Some neighborhoods simply don’t have enough room for additional development for us to build brand new affordable housing. Chris will get legislation passed in Albany that will allow us to incentivize building owners to convert existing units into affordable middle-income housing. This program will help us retain economic diversity in neighborhoods that have become harder to reach for the middle class.
Hold bad landlords accountable. We need to make sure that all of our city’s housing is good enough for people to want to live and raise their families in. But for 50 years, we’ve been working with a housing code that doesn’t give us the right tools to force landlords to keep apartments in livable condition. Chris will conduct the first top to bottom overhaul of the city’s Housing Maintenance Code since its creation. She will give inspectors the power to tell landlords exactly what the problem is, and exactly how it needs to be corrected - and create new penalties for repeat violations, so if you keep trying to get away with a quick fix, you’ll pay the price.
Protect tenants living in buildings in danger of foreclosure. Thousands of apartments in New York City are in buildings that are in or on the verge of foreclosure, which puts the future of those tenants in risk. Chris will create a Distressed Housing Preservation Fund, which will be used by HPD to purchase overleveraged buildings at a bulk rate. The city will make repairs, then transfer the properties to an approved developer who will keep them affordable and in good condition.
Provide rental assistance for homeless families. There are currently 12,000 families living in homeless shelters in New York City, some with children just a few months old. And without a rental assistance program for the homeless, most families have no way out of the shelters and into long term housing. Chris will create a new program to help homeless families cover rent in private buildings so they can get off the streets, out of the shelters, and into their own homes. This isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the fiscally responsible thing to do. The average cost of a rental subsidy for a family of four is $800 a month. To house that same family in a shelter costs $3,000.
Ensure that no young person in New York City ever needs to spend the night on the streets. Chris will make sure our budget consistently grants enough funding so that every runaway and homeless youth has access to an appropriate shelter bed, 40 percent of which are typically used by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. By ensuring that funding for shelter beds are made permanent, advocates can shift focus from budget advocacy to helping youth obtain GEDs, learn trade skills, access physical and mental health services, and get on the path to financial independence. Chris will also direct city agencies to better coordinate and explore how to more effectively serve our 18-24 year old homeless youth as they age out of federal and state regulated programs.
- Help every older New Yorker who wants to age in place remain in their community. Many seniors would prefer to stay in their homes and remain connected to their friends and neighbors as they age rather than move to a retirement community. Unfortunately decreases in income as older New Yorkers slow down or stop working can threaten their financial security and ability to age in place. As Mayor, Chris will coordinate a suite of resources designed to help older New Yorkers stay in their homes and their communities as they grow older. She’ll make sure that our seniors have access to legal services to help them avoid unnecessary evictions. She’ll also work with Albany to get the income eligibility limit for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program raised from $29,000 a year to $33,000 a year, and increase outreach to help more seniors take advantage of this program that caps rent increases at a third of their income.
- Build New York City’s first LGBT senior housing community. As Mayor, Chris will make New York City a nationwide leader in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender senior housing. She will create a new senior housing community that will be available to all older adults but will offer services focused on the LGBT community, including social and cultural services, help to connect seniors with available benefits, economic case management, and income security services. In order to better serve all of our older LGBT New Yorkers, Chris will also incentivize existing senior housing facilities to provide LGBT cultural competency training for their staff, and make sure city funding is available for this training.
- Create a veterans rent increase exemption program and expand veteran preferences in housing. Housing is a critical issue for every New Yorker but for none more so than veterans who may be returning home after years spent at military bases and deployed overseas. Chris will create a Veteran Rent Increase Exemption Program mirrored on similar programs for people with disabilities and seniors. This program will exempt veterans, seniors and disabled persons in public housing making up to $33,000 from rent increases. Additionally, Chris will create a housing preference for veterans for NYCHA public housing, Section 8 vouchers and in housing lotteries administered by the Department of Housing Preservation & Development and the Housing Development Corporation.
Make public housing more accessible to victims of violence and exploitation. A safe, stable living environment is a critical starting point for a domestic violence victim trying to escape an abuser or a human trafficking victim trying to exit their exploitation. Public housing should provide an affordable safe haven for many of these victims, but NYCHA apartments can be too difficult for many to access in a timely manner. As mayor, Chris will give victims of human trafficking priority for NYCHA apartments, and remove the bureaucratic hurdles that can prevent victims of domestic violence from accessing priority NYCHA housing.