Brandon West

Brandon West

https://westforcouncil.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/brandonwestnyc Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/brandonwestnyc/

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)

I have participated in actions and worked with groups in opposition to the Gowanus Rezoning, and have been in contact with organizers following the rezoning. I have also worked in my capacity as President of the New Kings Democrats in support of the Housing Justice for All coalition and their push for their platform in 2019. I worked to get our members to endorse the platform and worked to call and pressure our elected officials to support the bills.

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

Unregulated Rental Apt

4. Are you, or have you ever been, a landlord? No

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

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)

I believe that housing is a human right, and needs to be decommodified. We urgently need to address the pending eviction crisis, and the homelessness crisis we already have, by creating permanent social housing and stopping displacement.

The Council can: pass COPA, increase value of City vouchers, provide more funding for housing discrimination enforcement and tenant organizing, legalize ADUs, expand right-to-counsel, defund the NYPD & reinvest in housing programs, etc. But we also have to think bigger. NYC must lead an advocacy campaign to get more Federal dollars for 100% affordable, publicly owned housing, and to re-invest in NYCHA.

We also need to re-envision development. MIH is a trojan horse to bring gentrifying rezonings to Black and Brown communities. We need to start over and ensure that affordable housing is part of ALL new development, and that planning meaningfully involves communities and ensures that the rich and connected can’t dictate housing policy for the rest of us.

9. Do you believe that housing should be de-commodified?  I believe that housing is a human right, and needs to be decommodified. We urgently need to address the pending eviction crisis, and the homelessness crisis we already have, by creating permanent social housing and stopping displacement.

The Council can: pass COPA, increase value of City vouchers, provide more funding for housing discrimination enforcement and tenant organizing, legalize ADUs, expand right-to-counsel, defund the NYPD & reinvest in housing programs, etc. But we also have to think bigger. NYC must lead an advocacy campaign to get more Federal dollars for 100% affordable, publicly owned housing, and to re-invest in NYCHA.

We also need to re-envision development. MIH is a trojan horse to bring gentrifying rezonings to Black and Brown communities. We need to start over and ensure that affordable housing is part of ALL new development, and that planning meaningfully involves communities and ensures that the rich and connected can’t dictate housing policy for the rest of us.

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?

The solutions are not easy. The budget deficit is huge and growing, and there is no trust between residents and NYCHA after years of disinvestment. I will oppose any attempts to privatize, and will not take a position on any new proposal without extensively discussing with tenants. They feel left out of decision-making about their own futures, so I would advocate for more robust engagement and a resident vote on any proposal, and for NYCHA to support Resident Management Corporations.

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? Yes

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

A rezoning must center the needs of those who lack secure housing, and favor community over developers. It should create housing affordable to the community, unlike MIH, which creates too much market-rate housing and leads to displacement. (I live in the Gowanus Rezoning area and currently need to move bc my landlord is selling the building.) It must also include robust consideration for resilience, infrastructure, and community investments such as parks, schools, and supportive housing.

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

I support the idea of a citywide comprehensive planning framework that balances citywide needs with neighborhood priorities, and leaves implementation to a community process. But I have concerns with the current proposal – it includes too many loopholes that can take power away from the people. To get this done right, we need a Charter Revision Commission to make more substantive changes, as well as  community board reform and an Office of Community Planning to provide technical assistance.

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 75% Percentage of Unhoused New Yorkers  25%

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 have called for a moratorium on the Gowanus Rezoning, because I think we can do better in a number of areas, especially housing, community investments, and environmental remediation and sustainability. I encourage you to check out my detailed platform here: https://westforcouncil.com/gowanus-rezoning.

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)

Despite major gains in our rent reforms, tenant harassment is still an issue. The Council can address this in a number of ways, including: forcing HPD to actually collect civil penalties for housing code violations and creating escalating fines for repeat offenders; expanding programs like AEP, the Emergency Repair Program, and 7A; and making the Certification of No Harassment program permanent and citywide.

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)

While permanent housing is a much better solution than transitional housing, I would not stop any proposal that would help provide a roof over the heads of New Yorkers in need. I am particularly interested in models that would convert existing hotels and vacant property into permanent housing options for those currently experiencing homelessness.

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)
First we have to put pressure on the new Mayor to make their appointments represent the needs of real tenants, rather than the real estate industry. Then we have to organize to make the political climate such that the Mayor is likely to direct his/her appointments to lower rents.

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