Affordable Housing Takes Center Stage

May 4, 2010 Updated: October 1, 2015

(L-R) City Councilwoman Letitia James, Tamara Czyzyk, tenant advocate who lives in the district of Sen. Espada, and Lee Roy Johnson, a rally speaker. (Lina Berezovska/The Epoch Times)
(L-R) City Councilwoman Letitia James, Tamara Czyzyk, tenant advocate who lives in the district of Sen. Espada, and Lee Roy Johnson, a rally speaker. (Lina Berezovska/The Epoch Times)
NEW YORK—Monday was the official NYC Affordable Housing Day. On the occasion, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to build over 100,000 affordable housing units.

Bloomberg made the announcement at the Via Verde (Green Way), a $99 million mixed-income rental and home-ownership development in the South Bronx. The city hopes to build and preserve 165,000 housing units by 2014 for half a million New Yorkers.

Also marking the occasion, a group of tenant advocates assembled at the City Hall steps to rally against four state senators who do not stand behind a bill to repeal vacancy decontrol. Vacancy decontrol allows landlords to raise rents on rent-controlled apartments when tenants move out.

The four senators are Martin Dilan, Martin Golden, Jeffery Clain, and scandal-ridden Pedro Espada.

City Councilwoman Letitia James, who is a supporter of repeal vacancy decontrol, expressed discontent with the four senators for not supporting the tenants and siding with the landlords.

“They told you that they would protect you, that they would stand up,” James said to the tenant advocates. “Where are they when we need them? Why are they not sponsors of this legislation? Why are they working with the landlords? Why are they conspiring against the tenants that they’re supposed to represent?” she further asked.

The campaign plans to use grassroots efforts in the four districts of these state senators to pressure them, and as James said, to “move the bill.”

If passed, the bill will be a step toward re-regulating most of the decontrolled units of the past 16 years and to bringing back affordable rent in the downstate metropolitan region, according to a statement from the Housing Here and Now.

“Now that the real estate market is about to rebound, it’s critically important that they pass legislation and put this check on vacancy control now,” James said.