Douglas Schneider

Douglas Schneider

dougschneiderbk.com

Twitter: @dougschneiderbk Instagram: @dougschneiderbk

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 civil rights attorney, I’ve provided pro bono representation to tenants, including a rent-stabilized tenant harassed by a landlord who needed him out to be able to sell the property; a tenant illegally locked out by her landlord; and tenants whose security deposits were being illegally retained. As a criminal defense attorney I’ve represented men illegally arrested for “trespassing” for simply being in a NYCHA building. As a volunteer, I cook meals for men living in the CAMBA men’s shelter.

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)

N/A

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)

District 39 is a microcosm of New York City. We’re not building enough quality affordable housing, but when it does get built, it’s on the terms of real estate developers. We’re squeezing as little affordable housing as possible into buildings whose primary purpose is to make landlords rich. When housing is built, the needs of the local community are overlooked.

I will work to reform the ULURP process in favor of a system that relies on comprehensive planning that assesses the racial, social and economic impact of proposed projects, including climate change, transportation, school segregation, and investment in existing NYCHA buildings. We have an obligation to ensure that all newly proposed projects promote racial and social equity.

I will also support creation of a public bank, which would provide an alternative path of the funding needed to invest in housing and crucial infrastructure projects.

9. Do you believe that housing should be de-commodified?  District 39 is a microcosm of New York City. We’re not building enough quality affordable housing, but when it does get built, it’s on the terms of real estate developers. We’re squeezing as little affordable housing as possible into buildings whose primary purpose is to make landlords rich. When housing is built, the needs of the local community are overlooked.

I will work to reform the ULURP process in favor of a system that relies on comprehensive planning that assesses the racial, social and economic impact of proposed projects, including climate change, transportation, school segregation, and investment in existing NYCHA buildings. We have an obligation to ensure that all newly proposed projects promote racial and social equity.

I will also support creation of a public bank, which would provide an alternative path of the funding needed to invest in housing and crucial infrastructure projects.

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

Maybe

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?

NYCHA has tremendous capital needs and there is no doubt that we need to increase our investment in NYCHA and prioritize basic health and safety measures like getting rid of lead paint and mold and replacing aging boilers and heating systems. That can’t happen without more state and federal help. We also need to create a long-term funding steam for NYCHA so that we can stop relying on private developers to fund repairs to public housing.

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? Depends

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)

I would need the rezoning to be part of a comprehensive planning process that assesses the racial, social and economic impact of the proposed projects, including its impact on climate change, transportation, school segregation, and funds improvements to existing, local public housing. If we are going to take on NYC’s ugly and discriminatory land use history, then we have to ensure that all newly proposed projects promote racial, social, and economic equity. Finally, it must use union labor.

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

Rezonings should start with community input and set clear and binding standards to prevent displacement and gentrification, including a racial impact study. Given the role of community boards in the ULURP process, it is vital that they are diverse in terms of race, age, socio-economic status, and geography. We must also provide community boards with resources, such as urban planners, so that they are equipped to push back on developers.

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 25% Percentage of Unhoused New Yorkers  15%

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

The most important land use fight in CD39 is the Gowanus rezoning. To get my support for the rezoning there must be an upfront investment in the surrounding NYCHA buildings. The fact that the planned location for the 100% affordable housing is on top of a toxic waste dump cannot be ignored. I have real concerns about the long term safety of future residents and would not approve the rezoning unless I was comfortable that we’re not going to end up with Brooklyn’s version of Love Canal.

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 would make the Certification of No Harassment program permanent and make several changes to help the program better meet its goals. This includes expanding the number and types of buildings covered by the CONH law; expanding the actions that qualify as “harassment” and proactively identifying all forms of harassment before the tenant is displaced; funding community groups to educate tenants, such as through know your rights seminars; and, by ensuring language access throughout the process.

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)

My temple houses the CAMBA men’s shelter for 1 month every year. I have volunteered there since 2015. Talking and eating with these men puts a human face to the homelessness crisis. The men I have met became homeless for many reasons – family crisis, unanticipated medical debt, business failure, or the acts of a landlord. A roof over their head gives them a safe place to live while they work to get their lives back on track and is one more step toward solving our homelessness crisis.

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

32a. If no, why not? The answer depends on whether the word “bad” is intended to mean “wrong.” All evictions are bad in that being forced to leave their home is bad for the person being evicted. But, just because they’re bad doesn’t mean all evictions are wrong. For example, many homeowners in CD39 rent out part of their houses and rely on the rental income to be able to pay their mortgages. Without the ability to evict a non-paying tenant, the homeowner could be unable to pay the mortgage resulting in foreclosure.

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? No

35a. If yes, what will you do to influence the board to do so?  (500 characters)
Yes and no. The RGB has never rolled back rents, but the economic devastation and joblessness caused by COVID, could be used to convince the RGB to lower rents. By providing landlords with temporary relief, such as property tax relief, that lowers their operating costs and other expenses, their primary argument for the need for a rent increase is blunted and the RGB could be convinced to reduce rent.

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