State Assembly 65 Grace Lee


Social media: @GraceLeeforNYC @GraceLeeforNYC

  1. What type of housing do you currently live in?
    Own a co-op, condo or private home
  2. Are you, or have you ever been, a landlord?
    1. If yes, where & how many apts. do/did you own?
  3. Does your campaign accept contributions from real estate developers (including related individuals), corporate lobbyists, organizations that participate in the carceral system, and/or landlords?
  4. Have you ever worked in, or had another affiliation with, the Real Estate industry? No
  5. Have any of your campaign or advisory staff held a position as a corporate lobbyist or an executive role with the Real Estate industry?
    1. If so, how can we be assured you will have tenants’ interests in mind?  (250 characters) 

Values and Vision

  • Do you believe housing is a human right?
    • If so, what does that mean to you?   (500 characters)      
      Everyone should be able to have a safe, dignified, permanent place to live and it is the job of government to ensure that. That means social housing, eviction protection, proper maintenance and accountability, and long term support. It also means striving for justice and equity in housing to tear down the remnants of racist policies like redlining and then actively undo the harms caused by decades of underfunding and disenfranchisement.
  • What type of action have you taken in the past around issues of housing justice? (500 characters)             
    I am a community organizer and like to get directly involved. I have helped deaf tenants fight an abusive landlord for safety accommodations and repairs especially by generating press and political pressure. I have assisted tenant associations and fought against luxury developers. I continue to organize and fight to make WTC-5 a fully affordable housing development and against the private takeover of low income housing in our district.
  • What do you think are the most pressing Housing issues & what action would you take to address them as a state representative?  (1000 characters)
    The housing crisis is one of the most urgent issues that we face but the solutions are within our grasp if only we move forward with doing what is right.
  • We need to protect housing: That means passing Good Cause Eviction, continuing programs like ERAP and the Excluded Workers Fund, and passing vacancy and pied-a-terre laws. We also need to prevent eviction through harassment and lack of repair – fully funding NYCHA and cracking down on abusive landlords for example.
  • We need to create housing: We should build truly affordable social housing and convert unused commercial and hotel buildings into affordable housing. We should incentivize the creation of affordable housing that builds up the communities that they are built in. We also need to stop relying on a broken shelter system and instead build supportive long-term and transitional housing.
  • Have you or anyone close to you (relation, friend, etc) been evicted or been threatened with eviction?
  • Have you ever had to fight a landlord for repairs or faced harassment?
  • Do you believe that housing should be de-commodified?
    • Please explain your answer (500 characters)       
      Treating housing as a human right means necessarily that we need to stop treating it like a luxury good with artificial limits on supply and rampant speculation. Instead, I would encourage the creation of city and state funded social housing and the creation of CLTs that help preserve communities. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
  • Do you believe in publicly owned and controlled housing?
  • What is one rent and/or eviction protection you would enact if you had the opportunity?   (500 characters)
    Good Cause Eviction is the foremost protection that I will fight to pass.
  • I would also push for language access and right to counsel for all housing issues.
  • Do you agree that all evictions are bad?
    • If no, why not?   (500 characters)
      Sometimes, evictions are necessary, for example in order to protect other tenants from a destructive tenant who endangers the safety of others.
  • Do you support the concept of universal rent control?

Overview on Housing

  • Do you support the NYCHA 2.0 Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) and other privatization schemes?
    • Please explain why or why not (250 characters)
      Public housing must remain public and not just be given up to profiteering private interests. I will not support any measure that moves more NYCHA housing out of public control unless it is directly into the control of NYCHA residents. RAD is Bad.
  • NYCHA has suffered from chronic underfunding, neglect, and disrepair. What do you see as the best strategies to rectify these problems?             (500 characters)            
    We must fight to fund NYCHA at the city, state, and federal levels to make sure that all residents can live in safe, dignified homes. I will oppose any plan to privatize NYCHA and instead work to give more voice and control to NYCHA residents so that they have a say in what repairs are most critical to their communities.
  • Do you support setting aside 15% of all units created in new state-subsidized affordable housing projects for homeless families and individuals?
  • How would you use your office to put pressure on landlords to make repairs and stop harassing tenants?  (500 characters)
    My staff and I will speak to and put pressure on landlords and we will call out landlords who act in bad faith – exposing them to the news and calling attention to their actions.
  • We also need to pass laws strengthening protections – like Good Cause – and fund the enforcement mechanisms to hold landlords accountable. We also need to make sure all tenants know their rights by guaranteeing disability accessibility and language access and having robust culturally competent outreach.
  • Do you support regulating the 300,000 deregulated rent-stabilized apartments?
  • Will you support increased funding and oversight hearings of DHCR’s Office of Rent Administration to ensure timely responses?
  • How will you ensure people who owe back rent due to COVID are not evicted and do not continue to owe money?   (500 characters)
    It isn’t enough to simply delay eviction, we need to truly prevent them. I will work to strengthen and expand programs like ERAP and the Excluded Workers Fund and create other programs that can help end the cycle of rent debt.
  • Would you support financial and criminal penalties against landlords and brokers that deny a prospective tenant housing based on using a tenant blacklist?

Current Bills and Campaigns

  • Do you support Good Cause Eviction Protections?
  • If Good Cause is not passed this session, what will you do to ensure it gets passed in 2023?  (500 characters)
    I will work with allies in every part of government to press the Governor and other lawmakers to support Good Cause. I will also help tenant associations and advocacy organizations to build powerful grassroots movements that will force the press and politicians to pay attention and listen to our needs.
  • Will you support ending MCIs?
  • Will you commit to fully funding the Housing Access Voucher Program?
  • Do you support the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA)?
  • How will you support tenants in your district opting into TOPA?  (500 characters)
    Our district here in Lower Manhattan has seen far too often the devastating results of sales to luxury developers who tear apart communities and build unaffordable luxury towers that gentrify and displace. I will make sure that all tenants know about TOPA and have access to materials in their language and can speak with experts who can assist and guide them in the process.
  • Do you support the move to legalize basement apartments and ADUs?
  • Do you support tenants’ right to collective bargaining?
  • Do you support 421a or Gov Hochul’s proposed 485w?
  • Do you support fully funding the Excluded Workers fund?
  • Do you support the “Excluded No More” bill?
  • Are you committed to making sure every tenant in the state has free access to counsel in Housing Court?
  • Will you commit to fully funding statewide Right to Counsel in 2023’s budget?