Affordable Housing For All

In October 2019, New York City's Department of Planning released its second Geography of Jobs report, which tracks employment growth in the region, finding that the 22.6 million-person metro has added 924,000 jobs since 2008, with 675,000 of these added in New York City alone. That employment growth has, however, not been matched by new housing. Since 2009, the wider New York area added just 457,000 units of housing, or about one new home for every two jobs, according to the planning department's report. This ratio is even more skewed in New York City, where only one unit of housing has been built for every 3.55 new jobs.

 

This pattern would be expected to heighten affordability challenges and also demonstrates the need for affordable homeownership, which can prevent people from being priced out of their neighborhoods and provide New Yorkers the opportunity to build wealth and close the racial wealth gap  and should be a key element of growing New York City’s housing supply.

 

This is highlighted by the current affordability crisis and homelessness crisis facing city residents. About 58,500 people sleep each night in the city’s shelter system, according to the Department of Homeless Services. More than 114,000 students in New York City’s schools are in the shelter system or doubling up with relatives and friends, according to city data.   Over 1,500 (one out of 10) district 46 students had been homeless over the past five years.  

Stable housing is considered to be housing that consumes no more than a third of an individual’s income. Taking up more than that is considered burdened, and increases the risk of homelessness or displacement.  Almost a third (32%) of people in district 46 work in low-wage occupations and 28% of households are severely rent burdened.

Our NYCHA community members face problems like life-threatening mold, environmental lead, inadequate heating or cooling, faulty wiring, or broken elevators.

As city councilwoman Zuri will,

 

  • Protect and expand rent-stabilized apartments.

  • Fight to ensure that newly constructed units include a minimum of 40% affordability with priority given to local residents. Furthermore, I will advocate for the redefining of how affordability is calculated and introduce legislation requiring the use of census tract data which is more useful than the one-size-fits-all AMI which is still too high for low-income communities.

  • Advocate for the strengthening of the state’s housing policy which must protect vulnerable residents against the exploitation by landlords.

 

  • Allocate additional state funds to HPD to create additional affordable home-ownership programs in my district which has tapered off over the last few years

 

  • I will advocate to fully fund NYCHA’s capital needs. Systemic disinvestment has led to deteriorating conditions in many of our NYCHA buildings, and we need to reinvest in order to ensure that all residents have a clean, and safe home.

 

  • I will work to expand utility discount programs for seniors and low-income households.

 

  • I will advocate for changing Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and the Disabled Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) eligibility to be based on net income instead of gross income.

 

  • I will support and vote for legislation soon to be introduced (Brannan, Cabrera) which would preserve the right of individuals over the age of 62 to not be denied housing on the basis of having a companion animal.

 

  • Ending homelessness  is not a one size fit all.  As such, I will use evidence-based and equity-based approaches to ending homelessness, such as  Housing First.  This approach is guided by the belief that people need basic necessities like food and a place to live before attending to anything less critical, such as getting a job, budgeting properly, or attending to substance use issues. Additionally, Housing First is based on the theory that client choice is valuable in housing selection and supportive service participation, and that exercising that choice is likely to make a client more successful in remaining housed and improving their life.

 

  • I will advocate  relentlessly for the advancing  of a FY 2021 Federal budget that dramatically scales up investments in the McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Grants program. As NYC deal with lost revenue and diminished budgets following the pandemic, this is critical.  This would include the Housing Choice Voucher program (Section 8) so that more people can afford housing.

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Zuri Jackson-Woods

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