Darma Diaz

Darma Diaz

https://darma4citycouncil37.nyc/

Twitter: @Darma37cd Instagram: @darma37cd

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 a public servant and organizer for four decades, I have prioritized the fight for truly affordable housing in my district. At the Coalition for Community Advancement, I worked with tenants, advocates, and rights groups to champion more affordable housing and bolster protections. I successfully pushed for the removal of a bad actor from a rezoning project and led dozens of workshops for Housing Connect at senior centers and tenant associations.

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? 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? Yes

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)

In my district homelessness and housing instability prove to be a consistent and critical problem. District 37 leads in the number of people most impacted by the lean sale, which I successfully advocated to be postponed on multiple occasions. We must also continue to require significant numbers of affordable units in new commercial properties, as well as sure up funding for NYCHA and rent subsidization programs. The clarity of information surrounding affordable housing eligibility and services also often proves to be a barrier to the accessibility of these programs. As a City Council Member I will advocate for more and better affordable housing, as well as use my public platform to communicate directly with my constituents to make sure that they are able to access the support that they need.

9. Do you believe that housing should be de-commodified?  In my district homelessness and housing instability prove to be a consistent and critical problem. District 37 leads in the number of people most impacted by the lean sale, which I successfully advocated to be postponed on multiple occasions. We must also continue to require significant numbers of affordable units in new commercial properties, as well as sure up funding for NYCHA and rent subsidization programs. The clarity of information surrounding affordable housing eligibility and services also often proves to be a barrier to the accessibility of these programs. As a City Council Member I will advocate for more and better affordable housing, as well as use my public platform to communicate directly with my constituents to make sure that they are able to access the support that they need.

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

No

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?

First and foremost, we must ensure that NYCHA remain public. This will be an extremely important step toward ensuring that the needs of tenants and low income New Yorkers are prioritized. I will also be a vocal champion for increased funding for NYCHA in the next budget negotiations.

14. Do you support the NYCHA 2.0 Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD)/ PACT program and other privatization schemes? Depends

15. Would you support an immediate moratorium on the sale or lease of all City-owned land and air rights to for-profit developers? No

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)

In my work I have spearheaded the development of a scorecard system by which projects are evaluated–not by politics, but by specific criteria such as levels of affordability, environmental sustainability, community facility space, and contracts for women and people of color. I will advocate that this system be used by Community Boards when evaluating a rezoning.

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

We must advocate for changes that give local communities more say in development projects. It is crucial that we increase the amount of time that Community Boards have to review proposals, as well as increase the amount of education and training that members have access to surrounding land use rules and regulations. Together, these changes will

dramatically empower communities and lead to better, more fair development outcomes.

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 20% Percentage of Unhoused New Yorkers  20%

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

In our district, balancing investment with affordability has been a consistent challenge. I am committed to pursuing both–by advocating for mixed income housing as well as meaningful investment. This will lead to communities that are affordable and prosperous.

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)

We must require tenants to be provided with counsel in housing court. When eviction or harassment cases are brought to court, litigants often do not have full knowledge of their rights and the legal responsibilities of their landlords. Ensuring the right to counsel for tenants will be important in curbing rights violations. I will also use my platform to make my constituents aware of their rights as renters.

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)

As a public servant, it is my job to support all members of my community–especially our most vulnerable. Homelessness in NYC is a crisis that demands our full attention and I am committed to fighting it from from any and all angles. We must provide shelters in the communities where their occupants actually live so they can remain connected to their social support and so their children can attend school in the district.

32. Do you agree that all evictions are bad? No

32a. If no, why not? While I am committed to protecting the rights of tenants and providing truly affordable housing for all New Yorkers, there are also many small homeowners and landlords in my district who rely on rental incomes to get by. We must protect the rights of landlords to evict tenants on fair and legal grounds.

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 believe that as elected officials, we have the most influence when we act together. I would would closely to build a coalition of other Council and Assembly members to petition the Board to lower rents for rent stabilized tenants. When rent increases do occur, we must make sure that it is done based on concrete data from real market conditions.

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