NEW YORK—The promise of enduring hours of sweltering evening heat at St. George’s Church in Gramercy wasn’t enough to keep housing advocates away from another mayoral forum. Over 30 grassroots community organizations and hundreds of members from all five boroughs filled the pews of the church to hear from democratic candidates in the 2013 race.
“This is our city; we are fighting for our home,” said one of the organizers to the enthusiastic crowd before the event kicked off.
The housing advocates, who were warned at the start of the forum not to boo any candidates, raised concerns about working-class New Yorkers getting priced out of housing.
Specific issues raised included overhauling the housing code enforcement system, improving and preserving New York City’s public housing stock, committing to real affordability, promoting home ownership, and preventing foreclosures.
Bill de Blasio, Adolfo Carrion, William Thompson Jr., and Anthony Weiner expressed positions that seemed to resonate with the crowd. John Liu only joined the event in the final 20 minutes. But it was Carrion who took the crowd to task repeatedly for playing a more active role in choosing the mayor.
“You represent the silent majority,” Carrion told the crowd early on, noting that in the last mayoral election, only three out of every 10 voters in the city came out to cast a ballot.
De Blasio, who said as mayor he would build 200,000 more affordable housing units over a period of five years, was the candidate with the most specific plan for change. He also said he would “demand mandatory inclusionary zoning.”
When the subject of the New York City Housing Authority’s (NYCHA) controversial infill plan came up, the crowd let out its only real boo. NYCHA plans to fill a budget shortfall by leasing out public housing land to private developers.
“I say no to the infill plan!” exclaimed De Blasio, calling it the privatization of NYCHA.
Anthony Weiner’s comment: “This hole is so deep.”
“We need democrats to fight for democratic values,” he added.