Affordable Housing

Making sure that New Yorkers can afford to stay in their homes, and creating new, appropriate affordable housing may be the greatest challenge confronting our city. We need to save the affordable housing we have, while finding ways to leverage current development into new affordable housing. By strengthening our rent laws, preserving affordable units, combating predatory lending, and helping small landlords maintain below-market rents, we can keep the economic diversity and opportunity that makes New York great.

“Certification of No Harassment” Policy Will Protect Tenants from Harassment

Unfortunately, for unscrupulous landlords in NYC – especially in neighborhoods where rents are rising – harassing tenants is part of the business plan. Once a tenant is driven out, the landlord can make significant renovations, or demolish and rebuild, enabling them to dramatically raise rents. While we have taken significant steps to prevent harassment through legislation, proactive enforcement, and providing legal counsel, harassment of rent-regulated tenants remains a significant problem. 

The “Certification of No Harassment” (CONH) legislation will better protect tenants from the cycle of harassment. Under the law, covered building owners will be required to prove they have not engaged in harassment before they can get the permits they need from the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) to demolish or make significant alterations to their buildings. If the landlord is found to have harassed tenants, they would not be able to pull those permits – unless they submit to a significant "cure" requirement (making a substantial portion of their building permanently affordable, with no public subsidy). Read more »

Agreement Reached for Neighborhood Supermarket & Affordable Housing at 5th Avenue Key Food Site

Avery Hall Investments and Community Organizations Sign "Cooperation Agreement" for 120 5th Avenue. Elected Officials send letter to HPD and DCP expressing support for agreement and modifications to the Baltic Street Urban Renewal Plan.

Park Slope, Brooklyn - Avery Hall Investments (AHI) and 10 community organizations have come to an agreement on a proposal to modify the Baltic Street Urban Renewal Plan, which will allow the redevelopment of 120 5 Read more »

Still and always, grateful

Some years, gratitude is closer to the surface. Some years, it takes a little more digging.

Four years ago, as Thanksgiving came, we were recovering from a natural disaster.

Hurricane Sandy had taken the lives of loved ones, and battered our city. There were 500 nursing home evacuees living on the drill floor of the Park Slope Armory. But we found – no, together, we made – a “paradise built in hell” (the title of a brilliant book by Rebecca Solnit, about the extraordinary communities that arise in disaster). With food, music, art, volunteers, bathroom-cleaning, doctors, donations, smart organizing, love, and a deep sense of purpose, we turned that Armory into a place (as described by evacuee Miriam Eisenstein-Drachler) of “courtesy, gentleness, and goodness beyond description.” Even if it could not hold back the hurricane, she said, “it makes one feel more secure and very, very grateful.”

Today, as Thanksgiving comes, we are trying to recover from a political disaster. While the lives lost and damage done by Hurricane Sandy cannot be directly compared, the experience of loss for many of us is still real. Not just that we lost an election, though that will have profound consequences. What feels especially painful to me today is the risk that we’ll lose a vision that we’ve been so proud to hold up for our kids – of a country called to its best self, rooted in compassion, embracing difference, with a real belief (even when we don’t make it real) that everyone deserves a more equal chance across all our lines.

That very dream, and the effort to make it real, provoked a sharp back-lash (a “white-lash”, as Van Jones rightly called it). At this moment, it seems easier to mobilize the darker, more closed, more resentful, sides of humanity – rather than the hopeful, open, embracing ones. I’m afraid, honestly, about what that means for being human.  

Still and always, gratitude is a critical part of the way forward. Not as a way of “feeling better” (although gratitude turns out to be good for your health). And not only because bitterness can consume us (although John Lewis reminds us that hearts full of love will do a lot better to sustain us for a long-term struggle). But also because gratitude for what we do together, for what we can’t do alone, for the ways we need each other, is at the heart of creating an inclusive community. “Organized compassion” is not only how we fight but what we are fighting for.

So, in that spirit, here’s some of what I am so deeply grateful for, still and always: Read more »

The future we want for Gowanus: help us get there

A few short years ago, the future for Gowanus looked bleak. The canal was toxic, with no plan to clean it up. Businesses were on the decline. New housing on 4th Avenue displaced existing residents, was zero percent affordable, and featured ground-floor parking garage grilles blighting the streetscape.

We’re making some genuine progress. Thanks to the EPA’s Superfund process, a real cleanup is on the way. New businesses are springing up – light manufacturing, artists, materials re-use, co-working, and more. We’ve got funding in the budget for new parks and schools.  

Now, we face new challenges. Real estate pressures threaten manufacturing businesses, artists, and affordable housing. Current trends will yield more hotels, self-storage facilities, and big-box stores which do little to strengthen our neighborhood. Long-term disinvestment in infrastructure means streets that flood, dilapidated public housing, and a continued need for schools, open space, and transit.

So the next steps – in shaping the future for Gowanus we want – are up to us. Read more »

The seniors at Prospect Park Residence win a little justice

For the past two years, our elderly neighbors at Prospect Park Residence have fought a fierce and principled battle against a greed-driven landlord’s effort to evict 130 seniors – including Holocaust survivors, a Tuskegee airman, people with dementia, and many in their 90s and even older – just to make a buck.

Together, we have stood with them every step of the way. What landlord Haysha Deitsch hoped would take just 90 days turned into an epic, two-year battle. Read more »

Statement of Council Member Brad Lander on the NYC Independent Budget Office’s Review of the 421-a “Extended Affordability Benefit”

Thank you to the Independent Budget Office for evaluating the impact of the “Extended Affordability Benefit” (EAB) provision of the recent 421-a legislation. Over the years, I have worked hard to reform New York’s 421-a property tax-exemption, long a for-too-generous giveaway to developers for far-too-little affordable housing. Read more »

Some new candidates on the (PBNYC) ballot!

PBNYC Vote Week is underway – and there are some new candidates on the ballot!

For the first time ever, we’ll be offering a brand new voting opportunity. In addition to voting on how to spend $1.5 million on the “capital projects ballot” (with 13 great projects like those from prior years), you’ll also get to vote on how to spend $50,000 on our brand new “program ballot.” 

Every year, during the PBNYC brainstorming phase, we hear many great ideas that don’t meet the criteria for “city capital” funding, which has to be for “bricks-and-mortar” projects.

So this year, we are offering an entire second ballot of projects that qualify for city “programmatic” funding that lets us really take advantage of all the creativity we see in PBNYC.  I’m proud to say we are the only district in NYC piloting this new opportunity. Read more »

PBNYC 2016 Ballot is here: What will you choose?

You’re going to get a lot of chances to vote this year – the Presidential primary in April, the State legislative primary in September, and the General Election in November.

But only one ballot contains 13 fantastic local projects to improve our schools, parks, libraries, streets and transit: the PBNYC 2016 ballot for our district is here, and its time to get ready to vote on how you want to spend $1.5 million. Read more »

City Council Ramps Up Efforts To Preserve Existing Housing For Low-Income New Yorkers

Committee on Housing and Buildings Holds Hearing on Four Bills to Strengthen NYC's Housing Preservation Tool-Kit

NEW YORK, NY- Today at City Hall, the City Council's Committee on Housing and Buildings heard testimony on a package of  four bills designed to strengthen the city's tool-kit for preserving the existing housing where most low- and moderate-income New Yorkers live.

The preservation-focused hearing comes in the midst of negotiations with the de Blasio Administration on the Mandatory Inclusionary Zoning (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) proposals.  Council Members, advocacy organizations, City officials, and New Yorkers from across the city highlighted the need to strengthen the City's preservation efforts, even as discussion about developing new affordable housing through MIH and ZQA continues. Read more »

New Family Shelter at 385 McDonald Avenue

Thank you to the many neighbors who attended last week’s meeting (at PS 230) about the new shelter for families at 385 McDonald Avenue. The Kensington community had a respectful conversation on a highly-charged topic.

At the meeting, representatives from NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and CAMBA (the Brooklyn not-for-profit organization that will be running the shelter) presented detailed plans and addressed many of the concerns raised by neighbors. Read more »