A just recovery

MEMO to the FY21 Budget Negotiating Team of the NYC Council 

RE: Work during CoVid 19 crisis & FY21 projections

MEMO to the FY21 Budget Negotiating Team of the NYC Council

RE: Work during COVID-19 crisis & FY21 projections

Dear Council Speaker Johnson and the New York City Council Members of the BNT,

                  Thank you for your fierce advocacy for a just budget and leadership during this difficult and time. The City Council’s strong moral stance to fight for discretionary funding for community and safety net programs is inspiring and needed. Thank you also for your continued support of Stabilizing NYC. The investment the Council has made since 2014 supporting tenant organizing and community organizations has never felt more important or impactful.

During this unprecedented crisis and shelter-in-place order, SNYC Coalition groups have been a life-line for thousands of NYC families. Over the last 5 years, we have created & strengthened vast networks of tenant associations across the city. These families now turn to us as trusted, multilingual community groups that provide a wide range of services, are most uniquely positioned to inform tenants about their rights, connect them with resources they may not otherwise know about, or be unable to access and make direct referrals to the right agency or organization.

Since the crisis hit, organizations and attorneys have created mutual aid networks and wellness phone banks across NYC reaching at least 12,000 families to provide information on their rights as tenants, which has been a shifting landscape, and providing all matters of service, including resources, protective personal equipment, and referrals. We have connected tenants directly with food banks and food delivery, bereavement resources and funeral expenses, and much more. We documented these activities in our earlier memo on Stabilizing NYC work during COVID-19 crisis, demonstrating that we are on the frontlines and organizing is essential to keep communities safe and to address the unjust impacts on the communities we organize.

While we are still recovering from the pandemic, mass homelessness and displacement loom on the horizon. Housing court re-opened this week allow landlords to begin new case filings and universal eviction moratorium is set to expire soon.  We expect a massive flood of eviction cases as families struggle to pay their rent. Article after article, as well as our own experiences with our tenants, report that at least 750,000 families in NYS (According to research by legal service providers) have not paid rent since this crisis began. 

 Increasing legal support alone will not be sufficient. In order to get the rent relief needed and navigate bureaucracy, tenants must continue organizing to fight for legislative changes and to fight collectively against evictions and holdovers they now face.   We know the rush to push out low-income communities of color will be led by the unscrupulous and speculative predatory equity corporations. Stabilizing NYC targets predatory equity landlords who also don’t maintain their buildings, make repairs, or provide services. It will be these same bad actors who will receive the most bailout money, as predicted by University Neighborhood Housing Program. The Wall Street Journal ran an article titled “Real-Estate Investors Eye Potential Bonanza in Distressed Sales” and tenant leaders and organizers need to be ready to protect NYC’s affordable housing stock and lead the advocacy efforts to provide critical relief.

We need community leaders to advocate and drive government policy that gives relief to the most vulnerable and ensures they will not be displaced or evicted by the thousands. We need to use this moment to highlight the current disrepair and negligence of predatory equity landlords, prevent mass displacement, and ensure the buildings remain affordable and are taken out of the speculative cycle altogether.

 Housing justice is racial justice. Decades of government disinvestment in communities of color has been exacerbated by redlining, speculation, and overleveraging. Landlords continue to benefit from systemic racism by going unpunished, face little accountability, and are rewarded for their negligent behavior. Landlords wield power over communities through denial of services, neglect repairs, illegal construction, etc and are rarely held accountable by city and state agencies. In the past few decades, landlords have seized wealth and doubled it with guaranteed increases from the RGB and loopholes in state rent regulation law. Our work as Stabilizing NYC will continue proritizing and empowering tenants to fight for their rights in the courts and the street (social distancing of course); analyzing landlord behavior and trends; working on fair and reformative housing and lending policies; building new models of community ownership and preventing eviction that will preserve the communities we cherish as a city.

We urge you to preserve our $3 million initiative funding in FY21 so that, together with you, our organizations and vast tenant networks can lead this fight against the threat of homeless and displacement that NYC now faces on an unprecedented scale. Now more than ever, we must continue to advocate together to ensure NYC families can remain in their homes, communities, and be safe.

Sincerely, 

Stabilizing NYC

Asian Americans For Equality, Inc.
Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Inc.
Catholic Migration Services, Inc.
Chhaya Community Development Corporation
CAAAV- Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence
Cooper Square Community Development Committee, Inc.
CASA- Crenulated Company, Ltd., The d/b/a New Settlement Apartments
Fifth Avenue Committee, Inc.
Flatbush Development Corporation
Good Old Lower East Side, Inc.
Housing Conservation Coordinators, Inc.
Mothers on the Move & the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center, Inc.
Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, Inc.
ImPACCT Brooklyn (Pratt Area Community Council, Inc.)
St. Nick’s Alliance Corporation
Urban Homesteading Assistance (U-HAB), Inc.
Woodside on the Move, Inc.
Met Council Research and Educational Fund, Inc.
Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Inc.
Community Development Project d/b/a TakeRoot Justice

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