State Assembly 81 Jessica Altagracia Woolford


Social media: jesswoolfordbx jesswoolfordbx

  1. What type of housing do you currently live in?
    Unregulated Rental Apt
  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)      
      I’m fighting for all Bronxites to live with dignity, that means having your basic needs met.
    • Housing is a basic human need – we all need somewhere we can call home. And we know housing is directly connected to health and public safety. We know that having stable housing is key to protecting mental health and ensuring that all our neighbors are safe.
  • What type of action have you taken in the past around issues of housing justice? (500 characters)             
    As a mutual aid organizer, we use food as a way to weave community into our shared experiences as tenants. Organizing a free produce CSA for the tenants in my grandma’s building, and expanding this offering to families at Broadway Family Plaza a few blocks away helps us build collective power. Deepening these connections between neighbors helps us bring visibility to the housing crisis in a people-centered way.
  • What do you think are the most pressing Housing issues & what action would you take to address them as a state representative?  (1000 characters)
    I constantly hear from folks across AD81 on doors and on the phones about their struggle to pay rent. We need to pass Good Cause Eviction.
  • I remember how hard it was as a kid to try to find affordable housing in the neighborhood. Despite the lack of repairs, the roaches and rats, we didn’t have any better options.
  • We need better enforcement of existing tenant protections (such as source of income discrimination) and new enhancements (such as ending discrimination based on criminal history) to ensure that people can have access to housing and long term stability.
  • We also have to hold developers accountable to the neighborhoods they build in, and make sure that rezonings and developments happen in ways that support and protect residents, not displace them.
  • 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)       
      Yes, housing should be de-commodified. To the extent that a basic good like housing remains driven by profitability, we will continue to see people uprooted from their homes, and New Yorkers struggling to make ends meet because their rents are so high. Everyone deserves a home, and we must legislate and organize with this fundamental value: housing is a basic human right.
    • Working-class New Yorkers should be at the center of an equitable housing vision,  where everyone has access to quality, affordable and dignified homes.
  • 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 would enact Good Cause Eviction. My grandma, despite living in a rent-stabilized apartment, constantly feared threats of eviction because of the treatment she experienced from shady landlords as a working-class, Spanish-speaking immigrant. Having the personal experience of this abuse of tenants shapes my conviction to fight for communities across the district, and New York who need to know lawmakers are on their side, not on the side of profits for real estate.
  • Do you agree that all evictions are bad?
    • If no, why not?   (500 characters)
  • 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)
      I do not support the NYCHA 2.0 Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) because I’m skeptical of any finance-driven privatization scheme that doesn’t center tenants.
  • NYCHA has suffered from chronic underfunding, neglect, and disrepair. What do you see as the best strategies to rectify these problems?             (500 characters)            
    We need to see NYCHA as an asset and not a burden. In our community, Fort Independence and the Marble Hill Houses are anchors for generations of families.
  • NYCHA developments can provide much needed open and green spaces, and high-quality community centers for our youth and elders.But the federal and state governments have spent decades divesting from NYCHA which has a real cost for tenants. As a lawmaker, I will fight for federal dollars we need to repair and modernize public housing.
  • 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)
    As a lawmaker, I will fight for more resources for city and state agencies to properly enforce existing tenant protections. Often we have laws in place, but not enough resources to properly enforce and inspect compliance – including a lack of language access.
  • I will fight for more resources for legal services to bring affirmative claims to enforce tenants’ rights.
  • I will also enhance penalties for negligent landlords and management companies
  • 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)
    I will fight for universal representation because we know having legal representation in housing court has shown to make a huge difference in outcomes. Anyone who lost their job, lost income or a loved one due to the COVID pandemic should be able to access emergency relief that directly ends this looming crisis. I look to work closely with housing advocates to make sure this is done in a way that isn’t just a windfall for big landlords though.
  • 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 partners like the Met Council to develop a comprehensive inside/outside strategy to build public pressure on lawmakers who have yet to deliver Good Cause eviction for New Yorkers. I am committed to using my platform, and working with coalitions here in the district, and across the state to make sure that this is a top issue in 2023.
  • 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)
    To support tenants in our district opting into TOPA, I would make sure that we have the multilingual resources and staff capacities to help folks navigate the application process. We need to make sure local housing groups and tenant advocates are at the table as we plan outreach to the community so that every Bronxite seeking to realize their dreams of becoming a homeowner and building a foundation for future generations, have an assemblymember in office who’s got their back.
  • 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?