Joseph Packer

Joseph Packer

www.joepacker2021.com

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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)

Growing up in Carey Gardens Houses in Coney Island, Brooklyn there was never a shortage of housing justice issues affecting my life. From an early age I followed in my mother’s footsteps as an activist where I learned to stand up and demand the basic services we were entitled to. Advocacy was bred into my DNA. Through my past work with our former Council Member and my involvement as a local Community Board member I have used my voice to speak out around issues of housing justice.

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? 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)

First, affordable housing is at the top of the list. My district has thousands of units of public housing. We need to keep producing affordable housing options to provide options for constant upward mobility so residents of public housing can also realize the American dream of home ownership. It mattered so much in the lives of my parents growing up. Second, we also have a high senior population in my district. Sadly, what is commonly referred to as affordable housing isn’t affordable to seniors on a fixed income. We have to do more to provide housing security to my neighbors in their golden years and find ways to help them age-in-place safely and with peace of mind. Lastly, the 47th Council District is a waterfront community that was hard hit by Superstorm Sandy. Our housing stock is still not fully rebuilt from Sandy. Investments to harden our public infrastructure and stabilize our housing stock are necessary if we hope to survive the next catastrophe. We are not prepared.

9. Do you believe that housing should be de-commodified?  First, affordable housing is at the top of the list. My district has thousands of units of public housing. We need to keep producing affordable housing options to provide options for constant upward mobility so residents of public housing can also realize the American dream of home ownership. It mattered so much in the lives of my parents growing up. Second, we also have a high senior population in my district. Sadly, what is commonly referred to as affordable housing isn’t affordable to seniors on a fixed income. We have to do more to provide housing security to my neighbors in their golden years and find ways to help them age-in-place safely and with peace of mind. Lastly, the 47th Council District is a waterfront community that was hard hit by Superstorm Sandy. Our housing stock is still not fully rebuilt from Sandy. Investments to harden our public infrastructure and stabilize our housing stock are necessary if we hope to survive the next catastrophe. We are not prepared.

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?

Greater tenant involvement in property management and maintenance would give them more buy-in and decentralize controls from 250 Broadway to the individual developments. Economies of scale may favor a more centralized system but we’ve seen how ineffective that can be as individual developments get lost in the system. Empowering tenants to have some say over new manager/super hires as NYPD is looking to do with precinct CO’s will ensure that developments better reflect the values of the tenants.

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

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 represents the transfer of value from the City to a private entity. When the City gives up something of value it has an inherent obligation to ensure that the host community benefits from it. A rezoning must demonstrate how it will improve the host community, which could be done in a host of ways. There must be a tangible Community Benefit in my mind before the City should consider any privately-initiated rezoning action.

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

ULURP provides a short window of 60-days review while the matter is heard at the Community Board level before the project is whisked off to its next stop in the process. Involving communities more actively in the pre-Certification phase of ULURP would give communities more of an opportunity to leave an imprint on a project before the application ink is dried. Applicants are stuck in their project applications by the time the community gets to review it and meaningful changes are not possible.

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  10%

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

My community is constantly battling with NYCHA over living conditions in public housing which, from firsthand experience, I can say continues to shock me to this day. Between the falsified lead reports and the ongoing struggle to address Sandy-related mold conditions that are nearing a decade old, I have spoken out against these conditions time and again and personally helped my friends and neighbors by organizing and advocating for basic services.

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)

In the words of Justice Brandeis, “sunlight is the best disinfectant.” I would continue to use my role as a local leader to organize and speak out against unscrupulous landlords who allow substandard living conditions to persist while tenants suffer. Shedding light on the problems promotes a higher level of transparency and accountability which can motivate landlords to action.

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? Yes

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

Congregate homeless shelters do not solve the housing problem. They are not desirable forms of housing. They tend to benefit the developers and operators without improving the system overall. It is a big-money industry which takes government contracts to provide substandard transitory housing that homeless people are afraid to use and that fails to meet the needs for quality, dignified, permanent housing solutions for people in need.

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)
The City Council can use its powers in setting the budget to identify appropriate revenue streams directed to programs to keep tenants in their homes while assuring landlords that rents will be paid. SCRIE, for example, increases government subsidies on a sliding scale to allow seniors on a fixed income to stay in their homes. Landlords are entitled to rents that cover their eligible documented expenses. It is cheaper for us to keep tenants in their homes than deal with the cost of displacement.

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