State Senate 23 Sarah Blas


Social media:

  1. What type of housing do you currently live in?
  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) 
      I  know people in SI/BK who own a home with an apartment attached. Some of those individuals might donate to my campaign. My history of tenant organizing is strong. I am not accepting funds from lobbyist/real estate more broadly.

Values and Vision

  • Do you believe housing is a human right?
    • If so, what does that mean to you?   (500 characters)      
      As a New Yorker who’s experienced homelessness and entered public housing shortly thereafter, this is a core issue for me. New York needs a robust system of social housing. Relying on private industry to provide is ill advised. Social housing works in Singapore/across Europe, social housing can’t be a tool of isolating the poor and working class. In the interim we need Good Cause protections, to expand the right to counsel across the state and to expand market rate vouchers.
  • What type of action have you taken in the past around issues of housing justice? (500 characters)             
    I have been organizing inside and outside of NYCHA since I began organizing with my family as a youth. I learned at a young age not to be afraid and have when necessary challenged the tenant board for misappropriating funds. I’ve secured playground restoration in NYCHA, helped expedite repairs and gotten common areas into livable states with and without the help of the City/State.  I’ve also helped hundreds of families apply for LRAP and ERAP and get connected with vouchers.
  • What do you think are the most pressing Housing issues & what action would you take to address them as a state representative?  (1000 characters)
    Rent Regulation: We need to ensure that rents are not rising faster than wages; 300,000 people in NYC live in unregulated apartments. As a state legislator I am willing to lobby, march and legislate so that no New Yorker can be blindsided by exorbitant housing costs.
  • Livable Conditions: In NYCHA but also in private developments we must ensure fast effective and sustainable repairs. I’ve seen the mold, exposed studs and broken elevators firsthand. The 23rd district is among the densest  public housing areas across the state and asthma caused by mold is one of the greatest reasons for school absenteeism. I will support legislative remedies and options for tenants when landlords including NYCHA fails to provide timely repairs.
  • Homelessness: I support the Housing First Model. We need to reimagine interim housing into safer spaces conducive to healing. I will support legislation that invests in interim/permeant supportive housing as well as more set asides for PEH.
  • 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)       
      I believe that the government has a responsibility to provide for the basic rights. We have the resources necessary to pursue attractive, healthy and safe social housing a la the Netherlands, Singapore or elsewhere. I believe that a piece mail approach will not due. We must build thousands of units of social housing, non-profit housing and other options like housing trusts. We must also turn away from the subsidization  of for profit housing developers who have not and will not turn the tide of affordable housing.
  • 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 create a robust subsidy program to help tenants of distressed buildings purchase their homes through newly created housing trusts that could also help them secure the repairs necessary to prevent anyone in the building from becoming homeless or the costs from becoming inaccessible to the tenants.
  • 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

  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)
      No, because public housing should remain public, buildings who have been a part of RAD continue to have chronic repair issues.
  2. NYCHA has suffered from chronic underfunding, neglect, and disrepair. What do you see as the best strategies to rectify these problems?             (500 characters)            
    I have raised and continue to raise my children in NYCHA. I believe we need new more efficient accountability mechanisms as well as options for tenants whose apartments are out of compliance. I also believe that we can increases and further professionalize NYCHA staff so that they are more capable of clearing the back log of repairs. I would support an independent review, funds for additional staff and additional certifications and modernizing the tracking system used to track/flag repairs.
  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)
    I’m willing to protest with my constituents, engage in lobbying and letter writing on their behalf. In addition to reaching out to landlords after tenants have asked for help we need more proactive engagement of landlords. We must ensure that harassments and safety laws are enforced. There are also a number of programs for small landlords that can benefit tenants/the community and the landlords and increase landlord compliance including topics like: energy efficiency and accessibility.
  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)
    With the millions of dollars provided to bail out private industry we can absolutely bail out everyday people. We should provide sustainable subsidy options that include legal help which could include negotiating back rent.
  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’m willing to continue organizing and to energize and educate my constituents to ensure that legislators feel pressure to pass Good Cause. I’m also willing to lobby other elected officials to get the job done. As always I’m happy to march, legislate/vote and speak publicly on the issue.
  • 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)
    I am willing to host tenants who are hoping to use TOPA on a regular basis to help them fully take advantage of the program. I’d also be happy to create comprehensive information on financing and how their collect action could make TOPA viable especially in small and mid-sized apartment buildings.
  • I’m also willing to publicly support and continue to lobby and vote to pass TOPA and future measures that will make TOPA accessible to all New Yorkers who wish to take advantage of the program.
  • 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?