Met Council Names Ava Farkas New Executive Director

Ava FarkasThe Metropolitan Council on Housing, one of New York’s leading voices for tenants and tenant rights, announced April 2 that it had hired Ava Farkas as its new executive director. She replaces Jaron Benjamin, who left last November to work at the HIV/AIDS advocacy group Housing Works.

Farkas brings a well-established history of organizing on behalf of working people and progressive causes, having organized for the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition on the Kingsbridge Armory redevelopment; the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union’s living-wage campaign; the South Brooklyn Accountable Development Initiative, and most recently serving as chief of staff for City Councilmember Antonio Reynoso of Brooklyn. 

“With New York’s rent regulations expiring this June, this is a make-or-break year for families in rent-regulated housing,” said Farkas. “At this critical time, it’s an honor to join an organization with a 50-year history of fighting for tenant rights, and I am excited to get to work to strengthen New York’s rent laws, repeal the laws that eliminate rent-stabilized housing, and help preserve affordable housing for working families.”

“We are excited to be going into this fight with a new director who has Ava’s breadth of experience and commitment to tenant rights,” said Jackie Del Valle, chair of Met Council’s board of directors. “With rent regulations set to expire this year, we knew that we needed a strong leader for the organization and it’s clear that Ava is the right person for this challenging role.”

Met Council is a nonprofit that has been organizing tenants and supporters for 50 years. Farkas is taking the lead at a time when skyrocketing rents across the city are forcing more and more families out of their homes. As part of the Real Rent Reform coalition, Met Council will be working with other tenants’ rights groups this year to push for vital reforms to preserve New York’s dwindling supply of affordable housing. 

“This is a critical year for housing policy in New York, because this is the year when we decide whether we finally break from the failed policy of vacancy decontrol to permanently protect affordable housing for working families,” she says. “We know that the deep-pocketed real-estate lobby will try to use their money and influence to harm tenants, but at the end of the day we have the numbers and Albany needs to stand strong for tenants.”