Twitter: @hector_robertson Instagram: friends_of_hector_robertson
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)
For the last 20+ years, I have worked as a housing advocate for my community in Crown Heights – Brooklyn. I founded two tenant organization: Washington Avenue Botanic Block Association (WABBA) and Crown Heights Community Council (CHCC) to help the tenants in my community by keeping families, single mothers and seniors in their home. Fighting building owners to stop harassment and illegal evictions. We provide legal services and work in conjunction with other organizations.
3. What type of housing do you currently live in?
Regulated Rental Apt
4. Are you, or have you ever been, a landlord? No
4a. If yes, where & how many apts. did you own? 0
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)
The most pressing housing issue in New York is among the 515k+ lowest-income households living in NYC and are close to homelessness. As the next City Council member, I would approach housing by aligning city resources with need. This means that New Yorkers that are most at risk of losing their homes and becoming homeless, will be the first to experience housing relief by benefiting on new construction that would target the most urgent among us. I would also use all vacant city owned. It is clear that the current system isn’t working for the working class. I will consider alternatives such as utilizing land trust bank and I would seek partnership with not-for-profit organizations to help in the creation of permanently low-income housing.
9. Do you believe that housing should be de-commodified? The most pressing housing issue in New York is among the 515k+ lowest-income households living in NYC and are close to homelessness. As the next City Council member, I would approach housing by aligning city resources with need. This means that New Yorkers that are most at risk of losing their homes and becoming homeless, will be the first to experience housing relief by benefiting on new construction that would target the most urgent among us. I would also use all vacant city owned. It is clear that the current system isn’t working for the working class. I will consider alternatives such as utilizing land trust bank and I would seek partnership with not-for-profit organizations to help in the creation of permanently low-income housing.
9a. What would you do as an elected representative to move that vision forward? (500 characters)
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?
Fixing NYCHA’s 326 developments could be a major undertaking. The main issue with NYCHA is the inefficient way in which repair money is dispensed. I will take the responsibility of money management out of the hands of NYCHA and obtain the help of a management company to manage all repairs. We should expect true accountability and I believe this is the best way to obtain it.
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)
To rezone any section of the district, it should benefit the community and if housing is being built, it should be for low-income development.
20. What reforms to zoning would you propose to increase community input into development? (500 characters)
I would ensure the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP), input from the public and at the Community Board level, is taken into more consideration. The ULURP process should be strengthened to include the entire community.
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 50% Percentage of Unhoused New Yorkers 50%
23. What is/has been the most important land use fight in your district and what position did you take on it? (500 characters)
There have been many land use fight in my district in the last 16 years. The most important one yet, is the fight for sunlight on the site of 960 Franklin Avenue in Brooklyn. This building is attempting to build a 49-50 floor building that will create shadows upon the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. If this project moves forward, the shadows will destroy a vital part of the garden. My position as well as that of the community is: “We don’t want or need luxury tower build in our back yard”.
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)
Besides calling 311 to reporting lack of services by building owners, I will create a constituent services desk in my office where district residents can come in or call to file complaints against their building owners. Set up free legal representation for those same constituents if their cases end up in court and recuperate as much abatements as possible. Finally, my office will have its own running list of slumlords which I will share with the Public Advocate office for further actions.
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)
I would not oppose the development of homeless shelters in my district but I would rather have low-income housing development instead. We should stay away from developing shelters as much as possible and stop using them as permanent housing for the poorest among us.
32. Do you agree that all evictions are bad? No
32a. If no, why not? It will depend on the circumstances of the eviction. If a tenant has a lease and said tenant grossly violates the lease, the building owner could exercise his/her right to evict the tenant. However, in the case where we have a pandemic and people have lost their job to no fault of their own, then evictions are not justified. Even if the rent has not been paid. Ultimately, eviction is bad for everyone. The city and country need financial help for people be stable right now.
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)
In the current political climate, there is very little that can be done to influence the board to lower rent stabilized for tenants. In my opinion, working with state assembly representative to introduce and pass legislations will be a way to keep rents low. Ultimately, I would like to get rid of the Rent Guideline Board and cap rental for low-income, upper middle class, and lower middle-class families permanently.
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