Alexa Avilés

Alexa Avilés

alexaforcouncil.com

Twitter: @alexaforcouncil Instagram: @alexaforcouncil

Do you believe housing is a human right? Yes

What type of action have you taken in the past around issues of housing justice? (500 characters)

As the Program Director of the Scherman Foundation, I supported multiple housing justice campaigns across the city. I supported organizer Marcela Mitaynes in last year’s Assembly race, because I knew we needed a tenant champion like Marcela in Albany. I stood against the Industry City rezoning as a member of Community Board 7, and I helped persuade other community board members to vote against the deal. I promise to be a tenant champion on the ground in our District, as well as in City Hall.

3. What type of housing do you currently live in?             

Own a co-op, condo or private home

4. Are you, or have you ever been, a landlord? Yes

4a. If yes, where & how many apts. did you own? 1

5. Does your campaign accept contributions from real estate developers (including related individuals), corporate lobbyists, organizations that participate in the carceral system, and/or landlords? No

6. Have you ever worked in, or had another affiliation with, the Real Estate industry?  No

7. Have any of your campaign or advisory staff held a position as a corporate lobbyist or an executive role with the Real Estate industry? No

6. & 7. If so, how can we be assured you will have tenants’ interests in mind?  (250 characters)

8. What do you think are the most pressing Housing issues & what action would you take to address them as a City Council Member?  (1000 characters)

Given the estimated 50,000 renters in NYC who are facing eviction right now, if I had the power to enact one change it would be to cancel the rent and mortgages for small homeowners. As we well know, cancel rent legislation at the state level also includes support for small homeowners, of which there are many in District 38. We can do right by tenants and small landlords by canceling the rent and providing targeted relief to the landlords who really need it.

City Council members can use their platform and in-district presence to help organize tenants and homeowners facing financial hardship, and I would direct my staff to prioritize tenants and homeowners in need.

9. Do you believe that housing should be de-commodified?  Given the estimated 50,000 renters in NYC who are facing eviction right now, if I had the power to enact one change it would be to cancel the rent and mortgages for small homeowners. As we well know, cancel rent legislation at the state level also includes support for small homeowners, of which there are many in District 38. We can do right by tenants and small landlords by canceling the rent and providing targeted relief to the landlords who really need it.

City Council members can use their platform and in-district presence to help organize tenants and homeowners facing financial hardship, and I would direct my staff to prioritize tenants and homeowners in need.

9a. What would you do as an elected representative to move that vision forward? (500 characters)

Yes

10. Do you support the move to legalize basement apts?  Yes

11. Do you support the concept of rent regulation and eviction protections? Yes

12. Do you believe in publicly owned and controlled housing? Yes

13. NYCHA has suffered from chronic underfunding, neglect and disrepair. What do you see as the best strategies to rectify these problems?

We need budget justice at the city level that divests from racist, harmful institutions like the NYPD and invests in public housing. Since Bloomberg, the City stopped regular payments to NYCHA, while allowing NYPD to charge NYCHA “service fees” for the privilege of policing. The crisis of public housing is also the result of state and federal disinvestment, and we need a councilmember who is committed to organizing at the district level to fight for NYCHA at every level of government.

14. Do you support the NYCHA 2.0 Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD)/ PACT program and other privatization schemes? No

15. Would you support an immediate moratorium on the sale or lease of all City-owned land and air rights to for-profit developers? Yes

16. Would you require that any housing built on public land be 100% permanently affordable to low- and extremely-low income New Yorkers? Yes

17. Would you aggressively use City programs and eminent domain to take ownership of distressed properties and transfer them to community control such as Community Land Trusts?      Yes

18. Would you end the custom of deferring to local council members on land use decisions? No

19. What standards would a rezoning need to meet for you to support it? (500 characters)

One current example in District 38 is the site of a Dunkin Donuts on 4th Avenue and 25th, where a developer is proposing a rezoning to build a 14 story apartment building. The site itself could be a good one for affordable housing, but the current proposal is that a small fraction of the units would be set aside as “affordable units” for New Yorkers earning 40% of the area median income. We need nothing less than 100% affordable units for this rezoning to make any sense to me.

20. What reforms to zoning would you propose to increase community input into development?  (500 characters)

-Comprehensive Citywide planning process

-Funded and resourced community planning process with community engagement and outreach thresholds.

-Popular education and participation, with active organizing support from elected officials

-Language justice (and the funding required)

-Requirements that developers fully respond to community questions, appropriate analysis and present real mitigation plans

-Community Deference instead of Member Deference

21. Would you pass and enforce a true racial impact study as part of any rezoning?  Yes

Percentage of people who are below 200% of the poverty line 100% Percentage of Unhoused New Yorkers  100%

23. What is/has been the most important land use fight in your district and what position did you take on it?  (500 characters)

I proudly stood against the Industry City proposal last year. In a district where more residents walk and take public transit to work, and where more residents work in retail, manufacturing, and light industry, it made no sense to allow the developers at Industry City turn their existing, massive site into an even more massive shopping center and hotel complex. We simply could not stand by and let a shopping mall price out local jobs and tenants who are longtime residents of this neighborhood.

24. Would you support increased funding and oversight of NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and Mayor’s Tenant Protection Unit to educate tenants on their rights to organize in NYC rental buildings? YesYes

25. Will you support the City seeking injunctions against the landlords on the Right to Counsel’s “worst evictors list,” barring worst evictors from bringing eviction cases while under investigation, and implementing good cause evictions protections? Yes

26. Do you support expanding funding and oversight of the City’s emergency repair program to correct hazardous violations and send the owner the bill? Yes

27. How would you use your office to put pressure on landlords to make repairs and stop harassing tenants?  (500 characters)

I have attended many rallies, supported residents in their fights against landlord harassment over the past 10 years, and I will continue to always prioritize tenants’ struggles in office. It is unacceptable for landlords to leave tenants without heat or hot water ever – but most especially in the dead of winter, as we have seen many times in District 38 in the past few months. City council members have a bully pulpit and significant resources that they must use to advance tenants’ struggles.

28. Do you support the Small Business Jobs Survival Act (SBJSA—Int 0737-2018) and Commercial Rent Stabilization bill (Int 1796-2019) currently in committee in the City Council?Yes

29. Do you support converting hotel rooms into permanently affordable apts? Yes

30. Would you end the practice of police responding to people who are homeless?  Yes

31. Would you oppose homeless shelters being built in your district? No

31a. Why or why not?  (500 characters)

Homeless neighbors are our neighbors, too. In District 38, there are several hotels the city uses to shelter homeless New Yorkers and others who live on the street. I support right to shelter, but what I believe in is the right to a home. We need to prioritize supportive housing for homeless New Yorkers, including turning hotels and cluster sites into permanent supportive housing. I will fight for our homeless neighbors like I will fight for the tenants and small homeowners of District 38.

32. Do you agree that all evictions are bad? Yes

32a. If no, why not?

33. Are you committed to making sure every tenant has free access to counsel in Housing Court? Yes

34. Would you support an eviction moratorium every winter (Heat Season Oct. 1-May 31)?  Yes

35. Do you believe that the Rent Guidelines Board should lower rents for rent stabilized tenants? Yes

35a. If yes, what will you do to influence the board to do so?  (500 characters)
I will support tenant organizers and show up to picket at in-person and virtual hearings and submit testimony arguing on tenants’ behalf that permanent rent reductions (in addition to needed relief like a blanket eviction moratorium and rent cancellation) are sound economic policy.

36. Have you ever testified on behalf of tenants at a public hearing of the RGB? No

37. Do you support restricting the ability of landlords to discriminate and surveil tenants through the use of technologies such as key fobs, smartphone apps, and facial recognition to gain entry into their apartment units and/or buildings? Yes

38. Will you commit to only vote for a budget that decreases funding to the NYPD? Yes