Tenant-Power, Workers’ Power, and People Power Groups: “Stop the Mayor’s Housing Plan! City Council, VOTE NO and Fight for a Real Victory!”

The undersigned organizations call on the City Council to oppose the Mayor’s revised housing plan, currently slated for a March 22nd vote. We refuse to bankroll our own displacement; we refuse to subsidize non-union sweatshop construction; we demand a better world. 

Despite recent revisions, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) and Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) still rely on the same pro-developer and pro-landlord economic logic that has pushed workers and people of color out of the city for decades. 

 For two generations now, the City has told us that the only way to build housing we can afford is to sacrifice our blocks to new luxury housing—in order to get a few ‘affordable’ units. This tradeoff relies on sweetening the deal for rich developers, and has meant the City’s ‘affordable’ housing plans always result in displacement and homelessness. This is a tradeoff New Yorkers have rejected, with the overwhelming majority of the city’s Community Boards voting NO on both MIH and ZQA. 

We say it clearly now: City-driven neighborhood rezonings and affordable housing incentives are not about ‘leveraging the private market to build affordable housing.’ These rezonings and incentives are about the City creating luxury markets in neighborhoods where they don’t currently exist. 

Under the Mayor’s current plan:  

  • MIH creates at least 70% market-rate housing under any scenario—housing that in many neighborhoods will rent for thousands of dollars a month. 
  • Because the two mandatory options under MIH mostly serve people at 60% AMI or above ($51,800 a year for a family of four), it’s important to think about who falls below 60% AMI. The answer? Over 40% of New York City households, the MAJORITY of Black and Latino households, and a MAJORITY of people in the neighborhoods the City is planning to rezone. 
  • The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing plan does not require any developers, anywhere to build more than 10% of new apartments at 40% AMI (about $35,000 a year for a family of four). And even this income level leaves out the people in greatest need, including over a quarter of New York households who make less than $25,000 a year (i.e. less than 30% AMI).

This administration must do better than its predecessors. The fate of the working class and communities of color in New York City hang in the balance—our bastions of East New York and the South Bronx cannot be lost. Our families and neighbors cannot be pushed out. We need a better world. 

True community plans already exist—like the Chinatown Working Group’s plan; like the Bronx Coalition for a Community Vision’s plan; like the community-based Coalition for Community Advancement plan in East New York and Cypress Hills. The City needs to listen to these communities. Long term community stability and sustainability is possible with real community-led planning. Instead of lobbying to renew the 421-a tax giveaway to developers, the mayor should be fighting to repeal vacancy deregulation—the 20% eviction bonus—and to close other loopholes in the rent laws. The tenant and labor movements’ long-standing demands like new City public housing and increased funding for NYCHA have been excluded from the policy space for too long. So too have our demands for permanent, community-controlled low-income housing on community-controlled land. 

It is the City Council’s responsibility to reject the Mayor’s plan, so that true alternatives can emerge. 

 

Sincerely, 

Metropolitan Council on Housing, Crown Heights Tenant Union, Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Families United for Racial and Economic Equality [FUREE], Mothers on the Move [MOM], Picture the Homeless, The Black Institute, Right to the City, Homes For All, Laundry Workers Center [LWC], Cooper Square Committee, Mirabal Sisters Community Center, Good Old Lower East Side [GOLES], CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, Banana Kelly, Riverside Edgecombe Neighborhood Association [RENA], Northern Manhattan Is Not For Sale, TakeBackNYC, North West Bushwick Community Group, Committee to Protect Rent Controlled Tenants, Committee for Environmentally Sound Development, Concerned Citizens for Community-Based Planning, East Harlem Preservation Equality For Flatbush, Queens Neighborhoods United, Artist Studio Affordability Project [ASAP], Occupy Wall Street [Occu-Evolve] & New York City Council Watch [NYCCwatch], Take Back the Land, People’s Power Assemblies, Women’s Fightback Network, Moorehead + Lilly 2016 Presidential Campaign, Prospect Lefferts Gardens Neighborhood Association [PLGNA], Inwood Advocates Coalition for Tenants Rights, El Barrio Unite, Gotham Greens, Tenants Political Action Committee, Queens Anti-Gentrification Project, Prospect Park East Network [PPEN], #SaveNYC, South Bronx Community Congress, Flatbush Tenant Coalition, Take Back the Bronx, The Bronx is Not for Sale, Brooklyn Anti-Gentrification Network [BAN]