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.

Gratitude, 2015

There’s a lot to be anxious about these days.

Terrorism around the world punctures our sense of security, and prompts xenophobic backlash against our neighbors and those seeking protection from this very sort of terror.

Climate change threatens the world we will hand our kids.

Growing inequality makes it harder for people just to get by.

We struggle across racial divides, as we see video of yet another young African-American man killed needlessly in an encounter with police, and violence comes to those protesting peacefully to change an unfair system.

And at times, the changes in our communities – new development, skyrocketing rents, rising homelessness – make us feel we are losing our neighborhoods.

So I’m glad that Thanksgiving is here, to remind us of all we have to be grateful for. Read more »

New shelter for families with children at 385 McDonald Avenue

As we prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow, I’m thankful for the place that my family and I call home. Like you, I’m deeply grateful for the warmth, safety, and security, and for the space my kids have had to grow and thrive.  

Unfortunately, nearly 60,000 New Yorkers – including 24,000 kids – aren’t so lucky. As the crisis of homelessness continues in NYC, every community has a role to play. 

Like you and your neighbors in Kensington, I just recently become aware of plans from the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to establish a shelter for 64 families with children at 385 McDonald Avenue (the site of a former college dorm and, before that, an assisted living facility but now vacant) that will open its doors in the next several weeks. Read more »

Caring for our Seniors – Community events coming up!

From facing hard decisions about care giving needs, to finding enough money to pay rent and medical bills on a fixed income, life can be challenging for our senior citizens and those who care for them. Fortunately, there are policies and programs that can help our elderly neighbors and loved ones make the most of their later years.

Next week some great senior focused organizations in our community are putting on informative events to help you make sure you or your loved ones know how to take part in these programs and get the highest level of care possible. Read more »

Making Local Progress Toward Equity

I’m in Los Angeles this week, attending the conferences of Local Progress (our national network of progressive local elected officials) and the PolicyLink#Equity2015 Summit. I’m looking forward to joining over 100 local elected officials at Local Progress, and then 3,000 people from around the country at PolicyLink, committed to advancing issues of racial & economic equity, sustainability, and vibrant democracy in our cities and communities. Read more »

Whose visions for Gowanus? Come take a look.

You may have seen the recent New Yorker cover on Gowanus, in which artist Adrian Tomine makes fun of “people eating their organic kale and quinoa salads while gazing across the opaque, fetid water.” It’s a funny cover, and it’s good to be able to laugh at ourselves (and our neighbors). And there are certainly many ironic contradictions around the Gowanus Canal these days.   

But the issues we face in Gowanus are serious ones: How do we confront the legacy of industrial pollution, and the challenges of climate change and resiliency? How can we create inclusive neighborhoods – with room for working- and middle-class families, for public housing, for artists, for manufacturing – amidst skyrocketing real estate values? What’s the right balance of housing and jobs? Can we preserve, (or even strengthen) the mixed-use, eclectic, creative character of the neighborhood amidst change? Read more »

Your Neighborhood Needs You!

Our 5th year of Participatory Budgeting NYC (PBNYC) is about to kick off, and we need your help! 

The PBNYC process gives New Yorkers the power to decide how to spend tax dollars in our neighborhoods. If you’re not familiar with PBNYC, here’s how it works: Read more »

My Statement On The Lawsuit Against NYC’s 50% Community Preference Policy for Affordable Housing

As a strong supporter of fair housing and a more inclusive city, I believe NYC’s policy of 50% community preference for affordable housing is an important tool in our efforts to create diverse affordable housing and fight segregation.

Over the past 20 years, I’ve helped lead campaigns for mandatory inclusionary zoning to require affordable units where we build market-rate ones, for the School Diversity Accountability Act to identify and confront segregation in our schools, for a stronger ban on racial and bias-based profiling by the NYPD, and for a renewed NYC Human Rights Commission with a robust testing and investigation program to combat discrimination in housing and employment.

In many of those efforts, the Anti-Discrimination Center of Metro New York has been a valuable ally. But I strongly disagree with their lawsuit against the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s community preference policy, in which 50% of the units in new affordable housing lotteries are reserved for residents of the local community board, with the other 50% going to applicants from the rest of the city. Read more »

A Few Thoughts on the "Zoning for Quality and Affordability" Plan

I've heard from many of you about the NYC Department of City Planning’s “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” (ZQA) text amendment proposal. The Park Slope Civic Council and other civic and preservation organizations have also shared their opinions with me, and asked me to take a position on the proposal.

Most of the attention in the civic and preservation communities has focused on the element of this proposal that would allow height increases of 5’ to 15’ in contextual districts, with no requirement of affordable, senior, or supportive housing. Read more »

Why I support Mayor de Blasio’s 421-a reform proposal

(along with stronger rent laws, a mansion tax, and a real strategy for lifting up workers)

For more than a decade, I’ve been fighting to reform New York’s “421-a” property tax-exemption – which has long been a far-too-generous giveaway to developers, too expensive to NYC, unnecessary to encourage development, and generating far too little affordable housing. Read more »

Support for Mayor de Blasio's Proposal to Reform 421-a Tax Breaks & Strengthen the Rent Laws

Statement of City Council Member Brad Lander, Deputy Leader for Policy (and a member of NYC's 421-a Task Force in 2006):

"For far too long, despite our prior efforts at reform, the 421-a tax break has been far too big a giveaway of our tax dollars, for far too little affordable housing in return. New York City simply cannot afford to continue to subsidize market-rate development with no affordability.

So I embrace Mayor de Blasio's proposal for reform (outlined this morning in The New York Times). By requiring affordable housing in exchange for any 421-a tax break, increasing the amount of affordability required, eliminating condos, expanding the options to fit different neighborhoods, and broadening the mansion tax, 421-a can become a program that truly supports the creation of affordable housing for New Yorkers who need it. Read more »