State Senate 29 Brian Kavanagh

Website: briankavanagh.org

Social media: BrianKavanaghNY BrianKavanaghNY

  1. What type of housing do you currently live in?
    Unregulated Rental Apt
  2. Are you, or have you ever been, a landlord?
    No
    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?
    Yes
  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?
     No
    1. If so, how can we be assured you will have tenants’ interests in mind?  (250 characters) 
      I do not make blanket pledges against accepting contributions from any particular group. I have never been influenced by a political contribution and I think my record clearly reflects my independence.

Values and Vision

  • Do you believe housing is a human right?
    Yes
    • If so, what does that mean to you?   (500 characters)      
      It means we should be doing everything we can to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to high quality, safe, affordable housing, ending the housing instability, affordability, homelessness, and eviction crises.
  • What type of action have you taken in the past around issues of housing justice? (500 characters)             
    —HSTPA negotiations: strong, permanent rent regulation; broad protections for 180,000 mobile home park households; new rights for all renters;
  • —advocacy & legislation for the 22-month COVID eviction & foreclosure moratorium; $4.4 billion rent & homeowner relief;
  • —the fight for public housing funding & maintenance;
  • —investigation of fair housing violations; bills enacted;
  • —the push for Housing Access Vouchers;
  • —hearings on good cause eviction, code enforcement, lead poisoning.
  • What do you think are the most pressing Housing issues & what action would you take to address them as a state representative?  (1000 characters)
    We face long-standing, deep, interrelated crises of housing instability, unaffordability, evictions and homelessness. I am committed to doing everything possible to end these crises in New York. I’ll work to ensure that the new $5.5 billion in capital and $2.5 billion in expense funding in the State budget are spent equitably to meet the greatest needs. This includes continuing to fight for more public housing funding. I’m also focused on fully clearing COVID-related rent arrears and preventing evictions. I’m committed to enacting a large-scale Housing Access Voucher Program—the fastest and most direct way to prevent homelessness—and ensuring access to counsel for those facing eviction and foreclosure, good cause eviction protections, and resources to prevent non-payment evictions whenever possible. I’m also focused on habitability, quality, and safety—including lead poisoning which is rampant in NY and which I’m committed to ending—through code enforcement and public investment.
  • Have you or anyone close to you (relation, friend, etc) been evicted or been threatened with eviction?
    Yes
  • Have you ever had to fight a landlord for repairs or faced harassment?
    No
  • Do you believe that housing should be de-commodified?
    Yes
    • Please explain your answer (500 characters)       
      As defined by Oksana Mironova and the late Tom Waters (whose death was a huge loss): “Decommodification measures a housing model’s vulnerability to real estate market pressures. A housing model that is highly decommodified is more likely to meet the social housing goal of permanent affordability.” A primary goal of housing law and policy should be to insulate New Yorkers from market forces that threaten housing affordability, stability and quality, through strong regulation and public subsidies.
  • Do you believe in publicly owned and controlled housing?
    Yes
  • What is one rent and/or eviction protection you would enact if you had the opportunity?   (500 characters)
    As noted in my “most pressing housing issues” answer, the crises of instability, unaffordability, evictions and homelessness are interrelated, and the solutions are also interrelated and mutually reinforcing. So it’s hard to prioritize one over another (and I’m committed to all of them!) With that caveat, if I had to pick a single rent or eviction protection to enact right away, I’d choose Housing Access Vouchers, which would likely have the greatest immediate impact in preventing homelessness.
  • Do you agree that all evictions are bad?
    Yes
    • If no, why not?   (500 characters)
      All evictions are disruptive of the tenants’ lives; they have significant and often long-term negative effects on the finances, health, and mental health of many tenants, and the educational achievement of children. They are also undesirable and sometimes costly from the perspective of the property owners. We should be striving toward a world in which evictions are extremely rare.
  • Do you support the concept of universal rent control?
    Yes

Overview on Housing

  • Do you support the NYCHA 2.0 Rental Assistance Demonstration (RAD) and other privatization schemes?
    No
    • Please explain why or why not (250 characters)
      I do not support privatization of public housing, but RAD has taken hold in a time of federal, State and City disinvestment in public housing. We must rapidly reverse this and urgently address the awful conditions so many residents experience daily.
  • NYCHA has suffered from chronic underfunding, neglect, and disrepair. What do you see as the best strategies to rectify these problems?             (500 characters)            
    Residents deserve the dignity of safe, well maintained housing. I’ve fought for big State investments in NYCHA in each of my 16 years in office. In 2022, I led Senate colleagues supporting a resident call for $3.4 billion in capital & $2.8B for operations. We got $350M in the budget, plus reallocation of $750M from past years—the most ever but still grossly inadequate. We also need reform in the ways funds are spent and a new standard of resident involvement in decisions that deeply affect them.
  • Do you support setting aside 15% of all units created in new state-subsidized affordable housing projects for homeless families and individuals?
    No
  • How would you use your office to put pressure on landlords to make repairs and stop harassing tenants?  (500 characters)
    We frequently intervene on behalf of tenant constituents: contacting landlords directly to push for repairs; advocating for tougher enforcement by HPD, DOH, DOB, and other agencies; holding rallies and press events with tenants, community organizations, and tenant advocates.
  • Do you support regulating the 300,000 deregulated rent-stabilized apartments?
    Yes
  • Will you support increased funding and oversight hearings of DHCR’s Office of Rent Administration to ensure timely responses?
    Yes
  • How will you ensure people who owe back rent due to COVID are not evicted and do not continue to owe money?   (500 characters)
    The Tenant Safe Harbor Act provides that arrears accrued due to COVID-19 can’t be the basis for eviction; ERAP provides eviction protections while applications are pending. But the best solution is to fully pay the arrears. I fought successfully for a new $1 billion in FY2023; we need to advocate for New York’s fair share of federal ERAP funds, and enough to cover the full need. We also have to ensure tenants have access to counsel; our budget includes a new $35 million for counsel outside NYC.
  • Would you support financial and criminal penalties against landlords and brokers that deny a prospective tenant housing based on using a tenant blacklist?
    Yes

Current Bills and Campaigns

  • Do you support Good Cause Eviction Protections?
    Yes
  • If Good Cause is not passed this session, what will you do to ensure it gets passed in 2023?  (500 characters)
    I am committed to continuing to work with the bill sponsors, the relevant committee chairs, colleagues, and advocates to educate legislators, voters, and advocates about what the bill does and dispel the many myths that Good Cause’s opponents have continued to peddle. I was proud to hold the first Senate Housing Committee hearing of the year with the primary subject being Good Cause. Next year I will do the same and again make its passage a top priority of the Housing Committee and my office.
  • Will you support ending MCIs?
    No
  • Will you commit to fully funding the Housing Access Voucher Program?
    Yes
  • Do you support the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA)?
    Yes
  • How will you support tenants in your district opting into TOPA?  (500 characters)
    We’ll work to connect tenants with technical and organizing support that many will need to successfully negotiate the process. I think that ensuring that these resources are available generally to tenants seeking to engage in TOPA should be a key part of the legislative and budget process when we enact TOPA.
  • Do you support the move to legalize basement apartments and ADUs?
    Yes
  • Do you support tenants’ right to collective bargaining?
    Yes
  • Do you support 421a or Gov Hochul’s proposed 485w?
    No
  • Do you support fully funding the Excluded Workers fund?
    Yes
  • Do you support the “Excluded No More” bill?
    Yes
  • Are you committed to making sure every tenant in the state has free access to counsel in Housing Court?
    Yes
  • Will you commit to fully funding statewide Right to Counsel in 2023’s budget?
    Yes