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 Tenant Protection Act, for the first time giving tenants power to sue landlords for a pattern of harassment.
- Passed the Safe Housing Act, which gives the City the power to make repairs at hundreds of the city’s worst buildings and then bill landlords for the work. To date nearly 4,000 apartments have been renovated.
- 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.
- Created the Housing Asset Renewal Program, which has already converted 150 units in stalled or vacant buildings into middle class affordable housing.
- Created thousands of units of affordable housing through numerous rezoning agreements and changes to the 421-a program.
- Created the Center for New York City Neighborhoods, which provides counseling 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.
- Prohibited landlords from discriminating against tenants paying their rent with any lawful source of income, such as Section 8 vouchers.
- 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.
- Launched a Task Force on Financially Distressed Rental Properties, which has helped protect the rights of tenants in multifamily buildings facing foreclosure.
- Provided funding for more than 2,000 additional Section 8 vouchers for New Yorkers on the NYCHA waiting list.
- 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.