Kenya Handy-Hilliard

Kenya Handy-Hilliard

www.kenyaforthepeople.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Kenya4ThePeople Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kenyaforthepeople2021/

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)

In the NYC Comptroller’s Office, I fought against the passage of the MIH/ZQA bills. Additionally, while acting as the Brooklyn Director for the NYS AG’s Office, I assisted our legislative team on advocating and passing our bill in the state legislature that increased criminal penalties on property owners for tenant harassment. Lastly, I  led the AGs response on educating City elected officials and homeowners around deed theft and mortgage fraud schemes, in hopes to increase prosecution.

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)

Lack of affordable housing and rent burden are huge issues. Though the State has proposed $1.3 billion in rental assistance, the moratorium on evictions has only obscured the real number of those impacted. Not to mention there are small homeowners who are teetering into foreclosure because they are not receiving the rent, but still have to pay non-mortgage related expenses. District 40 has been hit with homelessness and the issues with providing adequate shelter in an area going through a development boom. Lastly, the district is starting to experience deed theft and mortgage fraud schemes.

As Councilmember, I will work to create Mitchell-Lama and workforce housing as it is a powerful solution to our accelerating housing problems. This includes investment in affordable housing through land trusts and land banks. I will repeal and replace Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA), which has become a handout for private developers.

9. Do you believe that housing should be de-commodified?  Lack of affordable housing and rent burden are huge issues. Though the State has proposed $1.3 billion in rental assistance, the moratorium on evictions has only obscured the real number of those impacted. Not to mention there are small homeowners who are teetering into foreclosure because they are not receiving the rent, but still have to pay non-mortgage related expenses. District 40 has been hit with homelessness and the issues with providing adequate shelter in an area going through a development boom. Lastly, the district is starting to experience deed theft and mortgage fraud schemes.

As Councilmember, I will work to create Mitchell-Lama and workforce housing as it is a powerful solution to our accelerating housing problems. This includes investment in affordable housing through land trusts and land banks. I will repeal and replace Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA), which has become a handout for private developers.

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?

NYCHA needs to do a better job at including resident input into their financial planning and decision making processes. As of right now it is pro forma. Therefore, as they consider the various funding mechanism and the Transformation Plan, there needs to be real resident engagement on a building, by building basis. Moreover,  HUD’s Section 3 can be an integral program in helping fix the infrastructure while creating meaningful jobs.

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? 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)

I’d assess a developer’s willingness to include the community into the conversation prior to an application. The project’s Environmental Impact Study is thorough. They’re offering investments in infrastructure (i.e. schools, green spaces, etc). Lastly, the percentage of AMI should fit the community and not the 60%-40% AMI that is pricing out our community. There’s a local hiring requirement. And the community is generally in favor of the project.

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

Community boards should have an approval or disapproval vote that restarts the negotiation process between developer and community. Community boards should have technical assistance to help those without expertise navigate the complexities of a given project. City Planning should genuinely weigh community input, instead of appearing as a rubber stamp for private development. Lastly, there should be greater appreciation for down-zoning requests, as we are for up-zoning requests. 

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 30% Percentage of Unhoused New Yorkers  30%

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

1620 Cortelyou Road development. I’ve been vocally against it’s approval.

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)

First, my office would make calls to the landlord, work with watchdog nonprofits, flag misconduct to enforcement agencies and use my bully pulpit to call out landlords to the press. Also, I would legislatively address the City’s inability to enforce false DOB and capital improvement request paperwork.

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)

No, there is a need, especially in this area where there’s displacement. Our kids need continuity in school. If they don’t have access to a shelter in the vicinity of their school, they will need to leave and the funding to their schools goes with them. Reducing the school’s budget as the student leaves. I strongly believe that we spend more on temporary housing solutions, then on permanent ones. I will call for a study on the cost of shelters vs. supplying low-income affordable housing.

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

32a. If no, why not? There are some tenants that need to be evicted and are presenting a danger or threat to the landlord and/or other tenants. There are others that have the ability to pay rent and are withholding for selfish purposes.

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)
Testify at a hearing and find other ways to use my public platform to call for a lowering of 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