NYC Public Advocate Advances Truly Affordable, Safe, Equitable Housing Policies

December 17th, 2021

Press Release

In the last week, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams has announced multiple initiatives and actions aimed at advancing affordable, safe, equitable housing programs and policies for New Yorkers.

On Wednesday, the Public Advocate released a report on the shortcomings of the outgoing Mayor’s affordable housing policies, with a particular focus on Mandatory Inclusionary Housing. The report, Reviewing the Mayor’s Housing Plan to Bolster Affordability and Equity, outlines major changes the city should make to ensure our city’s housing policy no longer ignores those who are housing insecure or severely rent burdened, and prioritizes keeping New Yorkers in their homes. This analysis comes five years after the Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) policy was implemented, and as Mayor-elect Eric Adams is about to take office. It spotlights the ways in which MIH failed to address the needs of extremely and very low income New Yorkers, the benefits that it provides developers at the expense of neighborhoods, and the manner in which rezonings under MIH have exacerbated gentrification and displacement.

This follows last week’s confirmation of the Public Advocate’s appointee to the City Planning Commission, tenant’s rights attorney Leah Goodridge. Leah Goodridge has spent her career fighting for housing rights, racial justice, and community empowerment. On her appointment she said that “Development in our city is too often focused solely on profit, not on people – I believe it is not only possible, but essential to pair economic growth with community strength, and the City Planning Commission has an essential role in that work.”

Thursday, Public Advocate Williams released the annual Worst Landlord Watchlist, which spotlights the most egregiously negligent landlords in the city.The Public Advocate highlighted the city’s past failures to hold bad landlords accountable under Mayor de Blasio – and history as the worst landlord itself through NYCHA – and called on the incoming Mayor and City Council to prioritize landlord accountability as they prepare to take office next month.

The number one worst individual landlord for 2021 is David Schorr, who amassed an average 1,442 open violations across 17 buildings featured on the watchlist. Schorr ranked #75 on the 2020 list. The New York City Housing Authority, which continues to rank as the overall worst landlord in the city for the fourth year in a row, saw a dramatic increase in the number of deteriorating or dangerous conditions. As of November 2021, there were 600,480 open work orders in NYCHA buildings across the city. The de Blasio administration will end with a significantly greater number of open orders than when it began in January of 2013, when NYCHA reported a backlog of over 420,000 work orders citywide.

Public Advocate Williams also called on the incoming City Council to move swiftly to pass the Worst Landlord Accountability Act, a package of bills aimed at correcting and preventing disingenuous tactics used by some of those landlords in order to attempt to remove themselves from the list.

“The housing and homelessness crisis in our city must be addressed with action on many fronts, from planning and development to maintenance and negligence.” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “As a former tenant organizer and Housing Committee Chair, I’m committed to continuing the work with my office to push for housing justice and equity. From misplaced land use to misconduct by landlords, New Yorkers are facing increased cost and deteriorating conditions – it’s time to implement policies and programs that meet this moment and this need.”

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