Public Advocate Questions City’s Housing ‘Blueprint’ In Council Hearing

July 1st, 2022

Press Release

New York City Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams questioned administration officials today about the city’s new ‘blueprint’ for affordable housing, highlighting deficiencies and a lack of much-needed specificity within the framework. At the hearing of the City Council Committee on Housing and Buildings, the Public Advocate pushed for clarity and additional information which the administration has yet to provide his office or the people of New York.

“After reviewing “Housing our Neighbors: A Blueprint on Housing & Homelessness”, our office has concluded that the blueprint puts together in one place all that we already know, but does not include the specifics of what we need to know, and an analysis of why certain affordable housing programs are not delivering what we need, when we need it and not in the numbers that are needed in New York City,” said Public Advocate Williams in testimony. “My office is still awaiting a briefing of the blueprint. I am thankful the Council is holding this hearing and hope it will illuminate many unanswered questions.”

The Public Advocate released a report in December 2021, Reviewing the Mayor’s Housing Plan to Bolster Affordability and Equity, about previous failed efforts by the city to meet the affordable housing needs in either price or volume, and has long called for deeper affordability standards. Read more on that report here.

On the blueprint’s guidelines for NYCHA, which the Public Advocate has repeatedly declared to be the worst landlord in the city, he said, “The report points out that NYCHA’s current work order system is backlogged with over 600,000 work orders. Moreover, there are wait times of over 300 days for work performed by workers in skilled trades such as painters, carpenters, electricians, and plumbers. The report goes on to say that the administration will implement 'Work Order Reform Today' that addresses duplicative or unnecessary work orders, and scheduling repairs around a resident’s availability. My question is– how?”

The hearing comes amid a mounting eviction crisis as rents are rising and the state has failed to enact Good Cause eviction protections. Yesterday, an Albany judge struck down local good cause protections, further highlighting the need for immediate state action.

In noting that the affordable housing and homelessness crises are truly one issue, he commended the blueprint for this recognition while criticizing the failure of the report to acknowledge the ongoing sweeps of homeless encampments, saying, “Unfortunately, notably absent from this plan is any comment on the Administration's current policy of sweeps and harassment of homeless individuals on New York City streets and subways. I have said that this approach does the last thing first. And without a place for these New Yorkers to go is an inhumane policy that continues the conflation of fixing the homelessness crisis with not seeing homeless people in specific areas. The starting point to end homelessness is to ensure every interaction between an unhoused person in this city and a representative of this government is respectful and culturally sensitive.”

An abridged version of the Public Advocate’s testimony was delivered in Council Chambers today. The full testimony as prepared and submitted can be downloaded here.

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