State Assembly 73 Kellie Leeson


Social media: @kellieforny @kellieforny

  1. What type of housing do you currently live in?
    Regulated Rental Apt
  2. Are you, or have you ever been, a landlord?
    1. If yes, where & how many apts. do/did you own?
      I owned a house in Conesus, NY while living overseas that I rented out when I was not in the US. I have since sold the house.
  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 deserves the opportunity to thrive, but to do so, they need to have their basic needs met, including a safe roof over their head. That’s why I spent my career ensuring access to housing (along with healthcare and livelihood services) for some of the most marginalized communities across the world.  If elected, I am committed to fighting for equitable access to affordable housing for ALL New Yorkers – and then making sure those programs are properly resourced to succeed.
  • What type of action have you taken in the past around issues of housing justice? (500 characters)             
    I’m proud to have worked with Housing Justice for All and other advocacy organizations to advance the 2021 and 2022 Invest in Our New York policy priorities. Last year we secured amendments to NY tax structures that have brought in $10B in new revenue. This year, we fought for programs such as HAVP, more funding for ERAP, and the ability for localities to authorize accessory dwelling units. If elected (and even if not elected), I’ll continue to take action to secure what we couldn’t this year.
  • What do you think are the most pressing Housing issues & what action would you take to address them as a state representative?  (1000 characters)
    NY has a massive housing gap caused by allowing rent-stabilized and SRO apartments to be taken off market, lack of political will to hold landlords accountable, and lack of construction for low and middle income households. We must work to keep people in their homes while expanding housing options through a mixture of government acquiring buildings, constructing social housing, encouraging community land trusts and reducing exclusionary housing laws.
  • I fully support Good Cause Eviction. It’s unconscionable that HAVP was not in our budget- this must be passed next year. Accessory dwelling units need to be revisited as a means to rapidly expand housing, ease pressure on supply, and reduce displacement. I would advocate for the long overdue $40B for public housing, with stronger oversight of public housing management.
  • 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)       
      Housing is a basic need and human right. No basic need, no human right, should be treated as a commodity. Housing, while currently primarily in the private sector, should be regulated to meet the objective of ensuring all people have a shelter. In addition, social housing needs to be greatly expanded to meet the huge deficit in housing available within New York City and New York State.
  • 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)
    I hope to see Good Cause Eviction pass this year, but if it does not, that will be my immediate priority. If Good Cause Eviction does pass then I would prioritize ensuring a tenant’s right to counsel in housing court for eviction proceedings beyond NYC, expanding it to tenants across the state.
  • Do you agree that all evictions are bad?
    • If no, why not?   (500 characters)
      I agree that evictions are bad; that said if there is a situation when the actual safety of the other residents is at risk, eviction may need to be considered. But this cannot be an eviction that just takes housing away from someone; we need to ensure there are supportive services such as mental health services, supportive housing, etc for the person who caused harm.
  • Do you support the concept of universal rent control?

Overview on Housing

  1. Do you support the NYCHA 2.0 Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) and other privatization schemes?
    1. Please explain why or why not (250 characters)
      Funding for repairs is needed but privatization is not the answer. A Human Rights Watch report shows tenants in Queens & the Bronx were evicted at rates 3x higher than pre-RAD levels, tenants’ rights eroded, and government oversight is inadequate.
  2. 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 fully fund public housing. The state & federal governments have failed to fulfill their commitments to NYCHA for decades. I will advocate for the $40 billion in federal funding and continue fighting for more progressive tax structures which could bring in billions of dollars in new revenue. We must also provide stronger oversight of public housing management, ensuring that public funds are used appropriately and that management is responsive to tenants.
  3. Do you support setting aside 15% of all units created in new state-subsidized affordable housing projects for homeless families and individuals?
  4. How would you use your office to put pressure on landlords to make repairs and stop harassing tenants?  (500 characters)
    On a legislative level, I will organize with my elected official colleagues to get Good Cause Eviction passed. On an organizing level, my office will proactively support the formation of tenant unions. I will also work with the city and state divisions of human rights, and the Office of the Public Advocate to hold landlords legally accountable.
  5. Do you support regulating the 300,000 deregulated rent-stabilized apartments?
  6. Will you support increased funding and oversight hearings of DHCR’s Office of Rent Administration to ensure timely responses?
  7. How will you ensure people who owe back rent due to COVID are not evicted and do not continue to owe money?   (500 characters)
    New York State has the funds necessary to pay landlords the back rent owed by tenants who cannot afford to pay due to COVID, and it is morally unacceptable that not a single dollar was put towards funding HAVP. I’d organize with my colleagues and use our “member items” funds to support tenants in our districts. I will also fight with my city council colleagues for city-level protections and support and to make sure every tenant has legal representation in housing court.
  8. 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 would take the lead from the lead sponsors of the bill to learn what we must do to get it passed in 2023. I would also organize with colleagues to use the rules of our chamber to force the bill to the floor for a vote. I would also work with advocates to apply electoral pressure (after all, we have elections every 2 years) to members who are standing in the way of the bill passing.
  • 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)
    Public education on how to opt into TOPA will be incredibly important. I will make sure I partner with a housing attorney who can educate tenants in my district about TOPA, and will also be able to guide them through the op-in process. I also believe the program must be evaluated to ensure any unforeseen barriers are removed.
  • 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?