Rita Joseph

Rita Joseph

https://www.ritajoseph.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RitaJosephNYC Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ritajosephnyc/

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 a typical school year, I work with 300+ students that are homeless as the Tech and ESL coordinator at PS 6. 1 out of 8 District 40 students, many of which are my students, have experienced homelessness in the last five years. I have been there for my students working to make sure they keep up with their education in spite of their housing situation. This school year, I have been working to get a washer and dryer for my school so that my homeless students can have clean clothes.

3. What type of housing do you currently live in?              

Unregulated Rental Apt

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)

People are getting evicted because they do not have adequate counsel. Mark Levine’s bill to double the income levels that are eligible for the Universal Access to Counsel program from 200% of the poverty line to 400% would help to protect more people from unjust evictions and expensive court proceedings. Though the bill does not go as far as I would like (I believe that individuals and families with assets up to 600% of the poverty line should be covered under the right to counsel), there is strong evidence to suggest that expanding the right to counsel significantly lowers eviction rates.

Homelessness is a crisis in NYC. Steven Levin’s ​bill to ​increase voucher values to the federally mandated fair market value would result in more rental options in an extremely tight affordable housing market. This bill would go a long way in reducing the homeless population as it would allow families to move out of shelters into affordable housing.

9. Do you believe that housing should be de-commodified?  People are getting evicted because they do not have adequate counsel. Mark Levine’s bill to double the income levels that are eligible for the Universal Access to Counsel program from 200% of the poverty line to 400% would help to protect more people from unjust evictions and expensive court proceedings. Though the bill does not go as far as I would like (I believe that individuals and families with assets up to 600% of the poverty line should be covered under the right to counsel), there is strong evidence to suggest that expanding the right to counsel significantly lowers eviction rates.

Homelessness is a crisis in NYC. Steven Levin’s ​bill to ​increase voucher values to the federally mandated fair market value would result in more rental options in an extremely tight affordable housing market. This bill would go a long way in reducing the homeless population as it would allow families to move out of shelters into affordable housing.

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?

We need to desperately supply NYCHA with the funding it deserves. NYCHA has the potential to become a model of sustainable housing given the expected national investments in infrastructure, but right now the entire system is criminally and continually undeserving residents. I support a massive investment in NYCHA to retrofit all buildings up to tomorrow’s environmental standings.

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? Yes

19. What standards would a rezoning need to meet for you to support it? (500 characters)

I only support rezoning efforts in low-income neighborhoods that are supported by community-driven planning. I also support rezoning higher-income neighborhoods to create new affordable housing and job opportunities for low-income New Yorkers, especially for POC, even if there is some community opposition from rich people. All rezonings would need to be for projects that would be green and would be built with local, union jobs.

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

I support the expansion of Community Board powers: Community Boards should have a veto power within the ULURP process if they have a super-majority in favor or opposed to a project. Any changes to ULURP must focus on preventing displacement and gentrification. As a Councilmember, I will have a large impact on the ULURP process, and I am committed to supporting affordable new developments that will be union-made and sustainable as well as stopping projects that gentrify neighborhoods.

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)

I opposed the proposed upzoning of 1620 Cortelyou Rd. The proposal does not provide the affordable housing units that our neighborhoods need. Our neighborhoods in Central Brooklyn are already at risk of being gentrified. I fear that the proposed project being completed would only accelerate the affordability crisis in our neighborhoods. We are already facing  a shortage of affordable housing supply throughout Brooklyn. As proposed currently, this project would not help matters.

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)

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams has researched, identified, and made public a “Worst Landlord Watchlist”. It is crucial that city officials, including council members, help to promote work such as this and that of the Housing Rights initiative as well the Met Council’s to make sure that tenants past, present, and future are aware of their housing rights. I pledge to connect the previous organizations with local churches and neighborhood groups in District 40 to do just that.

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)

Housing is a human right, and homeless people are just folks either down on their luck or, more often than not, folks who the system let down. We have a moral obligation to care for them. This issue is personal for me, as so many of my students are homeless. I’d also point out that while I will always advocate for the homeless population, including with the buildings of more shelters, white and wealthy districts need to do their fair share too.

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

32a. If no, why not? If a wealthy person who truly has the means to pay rent does not do so, I believe that they should get evicted. However, this represents such a small number of actual evictions that the example is largely moot. The overwhelming majority of all evictions are bad.

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)
I will do everything I can to encourage the mayor to appoint tenant rights activists to the board to ensure that renters have allies in the process. Then, I will lean on my connections to community organizations to ensure that tenants voices are heard loud and clear at each of the board’s meetings. Finally, I plan to invest heavily in my district office and have its staff educated on how tenants can get in touch with the board.

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