Twitter: https://twitter.com/ShahanaFromBK Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shahanafrombk/
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)
I was a tenant organizer with CAAAV, where I organized working-class, limited English proficient Asian immigrant public housing residents. I primarily organized Bangladeshi residents at Queensbridge Houses, which led to the creation of a Bangladeshi tenants association headed by Bangladeshi women leaders who taught me the Bangla proverb, the easy work of ten is difficult for one. My work amounted to the first-ever report released on Asians in public housing and our fight for language 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? 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)
Expanded legal rights for tenants is central to housing justice and ensuring all housing is social, decommodified, and centers true democratic resident control. I will support an expanded right to counsel for all tenants and for all legal proceedings, not only for evictions. Protecting tenants also requires systemic overhaul: legal services and resources should be available for all tenants, regardless of ability to pay, to ensure that everyone has a fair chance in court. I will also work to ease access to free Know Your Rights trainings for tenants that talk about Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, civil rights compliance around Section 3 local hiring and homeownership opportunities, and other building and tenant related trainings and services to allow tenants to fully understand their legal rights. I want to proactively support pro-bono legal services providers like TakeRoot Justice that have been working with working-class communities and representing the rights of tenants.
9. Do you believe that housing should be de-commodified? Expanded legal rights for tenants is central to housing justice and ensuring all housing is social, decommodified, and centers true democratic resident control. I will support an expanded right to counsel for all tenants and for all legal proceedings, not only for evictions. Protecting tenants also requires systemic overhaul: legal services and resources should be available for all tenants, regardless of ability to pay, to ensure that everyone has a fair chance in court. I will also work to ease access to free Know Your Rights trainings for tenants that talk about Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, civil rights compliance around Section 3 local hiring and homeownership opportunities, and other building and tenant related trainings and services to allow tenants to fully understand their legal rights. I want to proactively support pro-bono legal services providers like TakeRoot Justice that have been working with working-class communities and representing the rights of tenants.
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?
Capital funding allocated to NYCHA should be increased with an accountability, watchdog process to ensure repairs are actually made. To fully fund NYCHA, we must abolish 421a, oppose RAD, and tax the rich. These demands require a broad coalition, and to that end, I will be working closely with State and Federal elected officials to allocate and secure funding for improvements in NYCHA developments. I will always oppose RAD and the privatization of NYCHA and stand with public housing residents.
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)
1) Creating sufficient and quality new affordable housing, while not displacing existing homes or increasing rent/property values.
2) Minimal to no environmental impact – in my district this means not exacerbating combined sewage overflows.
3) Minimal to no public health impact – ensuring developments are not on toxic land.
4) Sufficient community review – community-led comprehensive planning and impact statements, not just community board approval or presentations.
20. What reforms to zoning would you propose to increase community input into development? (500 characters)
The City’s current land use approval process is deeply exclusionary, best exemplified by community boards. I would increase accessibility, provide childcare and meals, hire translators/interpreters, diversify membership, and guarantee compensation for participation, allowing more members to actively participate. I briefly served on Community Board 12. Community Board 12 did not have a working website at the time nor share regular updates, which impacts the public’s attendance in meetings.
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 100% Percentage of Unhoused New Yorkers 100%
23. What is/has been the most important land use fight in your district and what position did you take on it? (500 characters)
The most important land use fight in my district is the Gowanus rezoning, which I oppose. While the rezoning’s goal is to create more affordable housing, the proposal as-is does not create sufficient housing, and has excluded NYCHA residents and does not guarantee funding for NYCHA infrastructure. The rezoning also does not guarantee net-zero combined sewage overflows, and residents have noted a lack of transparency regarding the environmental impact statement throughout the rezoning process.
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)
I will put pressure on landlords by vocally supporting and tangibly empowering tenants by adequately funding legal aid, services, and workshops for tenants to know their rights. I always integrate legal aid into my work and will continue to do so as Councilmember; with my work in constituent services for Councilmember Brad Lander’s office, I hosted legal aid and political education workshops in partnership with CUNY Citizenship Now!, offered in Bangla, for free for community members.
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. While housing is a human right, and my long-term vision to end homelessness is to create permanently affordable housing for all New Yorkers, as a gender justice and domestic violence advocate I know that immediate shelters are a necessary safety-net for survivors. I will target the creation of permanent and supportive housing for homeless New Yorkers over the creation of shelters, but I will not oppose homeless shelters being built in my district.
32. Do you agree that all evictions are bad? Yes
32a. If no, why not? N/A
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)
As it stands, the Mayor appoints the members of the Rent Guidelines Board, who can lower rents for rent stabilized tenants. I will call for increased oversight of appointed members (to ensure Board members are BIPOC, immigrant, renters, housing activists, and urban planners), and also call for more City Council input on rent rates for rent stabilized tenants.
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