July 25, 2017
Contact Michael McKee, 917-669-2977
New York, N.Y. - Tenants PAC, New York's leading organization supporting pro-tenant candidates for public office, today announced their endorsements for citywide and borough-wide offices, endorsing Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.
Tenants PAC endorsed de Blasio four years ago in a multiple-candidate Democratic primary.
"We believe that Mayor de Blasio will be able to build on the successes of his first term and make significant gains in other areas where more effort is required," said Michael McKee, Treasurer of Tenants PAC. "In his first term, Mayor de Blasio has done some excellent things, including the partial rent freeze for rent-stabilized tenants for two years in a row, a first in the 45+ year history of the Rent Guidelines Board. He has also smartly publicized the rent freeze and the SCRIE and DRIE programs, which now have the highest enrollments in their history; with the City Council, he has greatly increased funding for eviction prevention; and supported the right to counsel in housing court.
"However, there are clear areas where the Mayor has been less successful. His highly-touted affordable housing plan has focused on production rather than preservation, produced units that will not be affordable for too many low and moderate-income New Yorkers, and will unleash the forces of gentrification and displacement in marginal neighborhoods which will see an influx of market-rate housing.
"The mayor's unfortunate proposal for the new 421-a tax subsidy, which was made even worse by Albany, will cost the City far more than the old program while barely increasing the requirement to build affordable apartments, and failing to offer basic protections for many tenants. Above all, the mayor has failed to use his bully pulpit to push for repeal of Vacancy Deregulation and other loopholes in the rent laws that have cost the city far more affordable apartments than he can ever build. We urge that he focus on this issue and work to activate and mobilize the millions of tenants into a grass roots force that can overcome the pro-landlord forces in Albany.
"But despite these problems, Bill de Blasio has been the most pro-tenant mayor we have had in a very long time, and we believe that he deserves re-election."
In addition to de Blasio, Tenants PAC endorsed Public Advocate Letitia James and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for re-election.
"Tenants PAC endorsed Tish James four years ago when she first ran for Public Advocate, and we support her re-election with enthusiasm," said McKee. "Tish James is everything tenants could want in a Public Advocate. She has aggressively pursued bad landlords and stood up for tenants time and again, including devoting considerable resources of her office to defending tenants and tenant associations under attack. She has been fearless in taking on city government and the political establishment when necessary to advance the cause of tenants and working people."
"Gale Brewer is an exceptional public servant," McKee stated. "She's hard-working and effective, and always on the front lines for tenants. As The New York Times said in its endorsement of Gale Brewer in 2013, when Tenants PAC endorsed her in a four-way primary, 'We can't do without her.' We strongly support her re-election."
Tenants PAC has reviewed the records of incumbent members of the New York City Council and has voted to endorse several, based on their legislative performance. Those incumbents who have already been endorsed include:
While the State Legislature has wrongly taken away the City Council’s authority over the rent laws that directly affect NYC residents, the Council can enact other laws to protect renters and preserve our threatened affordable housing stock.
Tenants' PAC Announces it's 2017 Endorsement Process:
To candidates for New York City Council:
Attached is a questionnaire which we invite you to complete. Beginning in June and continuing through July, Tenants Political Action Committee plans to endorse candidates for City Council in selected races in the September 12 primary.
Decisions on endorsements will be based on answers to the questionnaire and on discussion with candidates at interviews with the Tenants PAC board of directors. We will offer an interview to any candidate who (a) submits a completed questionnaire, and (b) is participating in the City’s public financing system. The same goes for endorsements in the November 7 general election.
We are looking for candidates who will lead the fight to reverse the phaseout of our rent and eviction protection laws that began with the New York City Council’s vote for permanent Vacancy Destabilization in 1994. Please note that it was not the Republicans in Albany, but the Democrats in the City Council, led by then-Speaker Peter Vallone, who struck the first blow in the real estate industry’s campaign to end all rent and eviction protection laws. Permanent Vacancy Deregulation passed by a vote of 28 to 18.
Since 1994 New York City has lost at least 300,000 affordable apartments which have been converted from rent regulated to market rent status, and we lose more every time an apartment becomes vacant. Despite the attempts of the real estate lobby and some politicians to paint this loss as affecting only “rich” tenants in Manhattan, in fact Vacancy Destabilization has nothing to do with any tenants’ income, but only with the fact that the apartment turns over.
(Median income for rent-stabilized households was $40,600 in 2013; median income for rent-controlled households in 2013 was $29,000, according to the 2014 NYC Housing and Vacancy Survey. The U.S. Census Bureau is currently undertaking field work for the 2017 NYC HVS, which will be released in time for the City Council to renew the city rent laws in March 2018.)
Vacancy destabilization has greatly reduced affordable housing options in all five boroughs, and after it was expanded in 1997 by Gov. George Pataki and the state legislature, in the suburban counties of Nassau, Rockland and Westchester. Unfortunately, having done the damage in 1994, later compounded by Albany, the City Council and Mayor lack the legal power to correct it. Only the state legislature can repeal Vacancy Deregulation and close other loopholes in the rent protection laws.
We are also looking for candidates who will oppose over-development and inappropriate development, as well as candidates who will fight to end the misuse of our tax levy funds to subsidize luxury housing, and re-direct these tax subsidies to low-income and moderate-income housing.
In other words, we are looking for City Council candidates who will be visible and vocal advocates for tenants, for preserving our affordable housing stock, for creating new low-income and moderate-income housing, and for preventing over-development and inappropriate development.
With some one million families in New York City living in rent regulated housing, and hundreds of thousands more in other forms of regulated housing, and hundreds of thousands more living in
unregulated housing without basic protections, your campaign will clearly benefit from presenting the strongest vision for addressing our housing crisis and the deepest commitment to renting families.
If you wish to meet with the Tenants PAC board and be considered for an endorsement, please return the completed questionnaire to:
Tenants Political Action Committee
Please take as much space as needed for each question. Please answer all questions to the best of your ability. Please email the questionnaire as an attachment as a Word file, and please note the suggested format for naming your file.
The deadline for return of the questionnaire is Friday, July 21, but the earlier you return it, the earlier we can schedule an interview. We will accept late questionnaires and will decide whether to grant interviews to late-submitting candidates based on circumstances. In any case candidates should try to submit the completed questionnaire no later than July 31.
Tenants PAC has already voted to endorse several City Council incumbents who are running for re-election.
For more information:
277 Broadway, Suite 608
New York, New York 10007